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It’s March in the Coachella Valley—but the weather isn’t the only thing getting hotter. Check out some of the fiery entertainment coming to us this month.

The McCallum Theatre’s March schedule is packed. From Wednesday, March 4, through Sunday, March 8, you can catch Pink Martini, featuring singers China Forbes and Storm Large. The group's diverse catalog crosses multiple music genres—and there’s a reason why Pink Martini is one of the most popular acts ever to come to the McCallum. Tickets are $58 to $98. From Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, witness Chicago The Musical. The longest-running Broadway musical ever is coming to Palm Desert for five performances only! Tickets are $65 to $125. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, all the way from the East Coast, it’s the New York Philharmonic String Quartet! Four musicians from the famous orchestra are coming to town for an evening of musical expertise. Tickets are $25 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, vocalist Steve Tyrell will take the McCallum stage. With a Grammy under his belt, and a catalog filled with new takes on classic songs, Tyrell should offer a night of vocal greatness. Tickets are $40 to $80. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is featuring a diverse lineup that has something to please pretty much anyone. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 6, renowned comedian and ventriloquist Terry Fator returns to Indio. He won hearts on his victorious season of America’s Got Talent, and continues to make audiences laugh at his Las Vegas residencies. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Latin superstar Pitbull will grace the stage. Go dance the night away to Grammy-winning radio hits from Mr. Worldwide. Dale! Tickets are $79 to $169. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 21, Daryl Hall and John Oates return. They’re the No. 1-selling music duo in history, and are behind some of your favorite hits, like “Maneater.” Tickets are $79 to $169. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, Chaka Khan will be in the house—and 1980s R&B never sounded so good! Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a March filled with nostalgia. The Tribute Concert Series keeps on truckin’, as you can catch tributes to Queen, Bob Marley, ABBA and the Rolling Stones, Fridays at 8 p.m. All the shows are $10, and are the cheapest form of time travel currently on the market. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente is showcasing a few top events this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are coming straight from the ’60s. Experience a great vocal group from the past that still packs a punch. Tickets are $95 to $125. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 28, boogie the night away at Saturday Night Dance Fever. Come enjoy performances from The Trammps featuring Earl Young, Rose Royce, Evelyn “Champagne” King and many other disco greats! Tickets are $60 to $185. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort has some enjoyable evenings in store in March for people who want to be entertained. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Flogging Molly is coming to Cabazon. Wanna learn what the words “Celtic'' and “punk” are doing next to each other? Well, go find out for yourself. Tickets are $69 to $79. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 20, entertainer extraordinaire Marlon Wayans will provide a comedy show for the ages. Go see the White Chicks actor live onstage! Tickets are $29 to $49. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 27, Rob Lowe brings his Stories I Only Tell My Friends tour to town. After 40 years in film and TV, the actor has a lot of stories to tell. Tickets are $59 to $79. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet's March schedule includes a lot of sold-out shows; here are a few shows you can still get into. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 20, local Latin-rock group Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will rock the Pioneertown stage. Catch Giselle and co. before Coachella crowds do in April—and the show is free! At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 28, Rose’s Pawn Shop and The Shadow Mountain Band will serve up a night of genre-bending rock tunes! This show is also free! Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucans is hosting two fantastic shows in March. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 7, Leslie Jordan (below) brings his Over EXPOSED show to town. The actor will provide a night of comedy and stories from his long career. Tickets are $35 to $45. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 20, Anne Steele brings her “Made Out of Stars” tour to Toucans. The singer/songwriter recently released a new EP, and is prepped for a night of music and fun! Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room continues to provide many great nights out on the town. From Thursday, March 19, through Saturday, March 21, catch the return of the marvelous Marilyn Maye. This musical treasure has still got it at the age of 91, and has been a performer since she was 9! Tickets are $70 to $90. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 28, Branden and James will return to the Purple Room. This time, catch the duo putting their classical spin on Lady Gaga’s songbook. Tickets are $40 to $45. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is hosting myriad unique events. At 7 p.m., Thursday, March 12, it’s the return of Campfire Stories With Desert Oracle’s Ken Layne. Come and indulge yourself in the mystique of the desert at this free event. At 1 p.m., Sunday, March 22, experience the first Draught in the Desert beer festival. More than 30 craft breweries will be pouring for your drinking pleasure. Tickets are $55. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Date Shed will feature some local talent this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 13, local indie-rock group Blue Sun will be releasing its brand-new EP, Haunted Garden, with support from other great local acts like Milhan, Host Family and Shaman Rock. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

You can also go support local music at The Alibi Palm Springs. At 6 p.m., Sunday, March 8, local psych/surf rock group The Flusters will perform, with opener 88 MPH. Let them entrance you with dreamy tunes all night long. The show is free! At 8 p.m., Friday, March 13, local indie duo YIP YOPS will make their hometown return. Go experience the group’s first show in the valley in months, with support from groups Gomi Neko and Israel’s Arcade. This show is also free! The Alibi Palm Springs, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-656-1525; thealibipalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

March brings both the revelry of St. Patrick’s Day and increasingly warmer weather—which, given the relatively cold February we had, will be even more welcome than normal.

Oh, and March is also bringing a lot of great shows, too!

The McCallum Theatre has plenty going on in March. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 8, get in the Saint Patrick’s Day mood with The Irish Rovers. The Irish Rovers provide audiences with a good time featuring traditional Irish music; don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing and clapping along. Tickets are $25 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9, Grammy Award-winning vocalist Steve Tyrell will be performing. Tyrell has been a regular at the McCallum for 15 years now. After a dozen or so albums, appearances on soundtracks for films such as That Thing You Do and Father of the Bride, and other accomplishments, he’s guaranteed to put on a good show. Tickets are $48 to $78. Here’s an interesting one … at 8 p.m., Friday, March 29, actor Rob Lowe will be performing his one-man show Stories I Only Tell My Friends. He’ll reveal tidbits about his life in Hollywood and his acting career, which now spans four decades. Tickets are $65 to $150. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a superstar-packed March. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 1, the former lead vocalist for Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald, will be performing. He’s collaborated with artists from Kenny Loggins and Van Halen to Grizzly Bear and Thundercat. He’s also won five Grammy Awards and charted with several singles. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 8, ventriloquist and comedian Terry Fator will take the stage. Ever since he won America’s Got Talent in 2007, he’s been a huge hit with audiences. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 22, classic-rock band Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be returning to the Coachella Valley. I’ve seen this band perform on three occasions, and the group—made up of two members of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival lineup and three other fantastic musicians—sounds just as good as the original. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events of which you should take note. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 15, Latin-music duo Los Temerarios will be performing. Adolfo and Gustavo Angel have become Latin-music superstars since they started in 1978, earning a Latin Grammy Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Billboard Music Awards. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 23, Prince-tribute band Purple Reign will take the stage. I watched this band’s soundcheck one time, and I couldn’t believe how well this band does Prince’s music. Others have taken notice as well—the group appeared on The Late Show With Dave Letterman on New Year’s Eve in 2009. Tickets are $25 to $35. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of Latin superstars coming through in March. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 16, enjoy a double bill of Voz de Mando and Kanales. Since the group began in 2002, Voz de Mando has released seven albums; recent single “Pa’ Que No Me Anden Contando” became a Top 10 Billboard Latin Music hit in the United States. Kanales came to the United States from Sinaloa and became a big star in Norteño-music world. Tickets are $40 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 23, Latin-music duo Amanda Miguel and Diego Verdaguer will be performing. They are Latin-music legends who have been together since the 1970s. Tickets are $51 to $106. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s is the place to be in March … or, well, any other time of the year. At 8 p.m., Thursday, March 21, Cold Cave (upper right) will be performing. Cold Cave is a project of Wesley Eisold, of the bands American Nightmare and Some Girls. Eisold was born without a left hand, which means he does not play an instrument—but he excels as a vocalist. He’s also a published writer. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Sunday, March 24, cosmic-country band Green Leaf Rustlers will take the stage. The band features Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, Pete Sears of Jefferson Starship, John Molo of the Phil Lesh Quartet, and Greg Loiacono of The Mother Hips. A “cosmic-country” band should definitely be a hit at Pappy and Harriet’s. Tickets are $30. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has a diverse list of events for March. At 6 p.m., Saturday, March 2, powerhouse cello and vocal duo Branden and James (below) will be performing. The duo features America’s Got Talent finalist Branden James, a classically trained tenor, and cellist James Clark. Tickets are $35 to $40. At 6 p.m., Saturday, March 9, Scot Bruce will be performing the songs of Elvis’ early years. Bruce is a regular performer at Disneyland and is considered one of the best Elvis-tribute acts in the country. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 23, get ready to laugh in tribute to one of the most iconic comics who ever lived when Joe Posa stars as Joan Rivers. He’s an impersonator of many stars, including Michael Jackson and Liza Minnelli. Tickets are $30 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

The once blacklisted The Interview is now available on YouTube, iTunes and Xbox while also playing in a limited amount of theaters (including a whopping three locally: the Camelot, the UltraStar Mary Pickford and the Cinémas Palme d’Or).

Did you ever really doubt you would get a chance to see it? Commerce always wins!

This film by directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, like Team America: World Police 10 years ago, plays like one of those impossibly strange—and undeniably funny—Warner Bros. propaganda cartoons that were in circulation during World War II. You know, the ones where the likes of Bugs Bunny would square off against Hitler. The major exception would be that these newer satirists say “motherfucker” a lot. 

This is touchy stuff, but Rogen and co-star James Franco are up to the task of pissing all over North Korea, the American media and the CIA. They don’t go after these institutions with contemplative, important, intellectual arguments; they attack with stink-dick and shit jokes.

As one should expect from political satire starring Rogen and Franco, The Interview obsesses over things like whether or not Kim Jong-un actually has a butthole. Mind you, the film does address real-world hot topics like nukes and people starving, but mainly, it is concerned about the whole “Kim Jong-un doesn’t have to pee or poo” thing.

Franco plays Dave Skylark, the flamboyant host of an American tabloid interview show who is notorious for stories such as Eminem admitting he’s gay, and Rob Lowe revealing his baldness. When Skylark discovers Kim Jong-un’s favorite TV shows are The Big Bang Theory and his program, he conspires with his producer (Rogen) to procure an interview with the world leader that will establish their legitimacy as real news guys. Their plans get mildly complicated when the CIA gets wind of the interview and insists upon the two killing the notoriously reclusive basketball fan.

Like this year’s Godzilla, The Interview’s monster doesn’t show up until about an hour into the film. Kim Jong-un, hilariously played by Randall Park, is a bashful Skylark fan who loves Katy Perry and margaritas. In what is surely a riff on the infamous Dennis Rodman-Kim Jong-un bromance, Skylark and Kim take an instant liking to each other. They play basketball, blow up parts of the countryside with tanks, and party all night long.

Of course, Jong-un has that bad side we all know about, so Park’s portrayal goes Jekyll-and-Hyde when the Supreme Leader starts threatening to nuke the world if it doesn’t recognize his superior strength. It’s in these moments that the Park performance becomes a tad more blustery.

Rogen is pretty much his usual self here—in other words, he’s one of filmdom’s most underrated comic actors, with impeccable timing and a steady stream of corrective, snarky retorts. Franco goes all-out childish here, with a high-pitched, appropriately sophomoric performance. His running account of a tiger attack on Rogen’s character is one of the film’s great highlights. Lizzy Caplan offers good supporting work as a CIA director who “honeypots” the two into the assassination scheme.

The final interview between Skylark and Jong-un is a comedic stew of tears, bullets, puppies, finger-biting and sharting. Park offers a Katy Perry-induced nervous breakdown for the ages; he should get some sort of award for Best Slow-Motion Death Scene, because what he does in his final moments is beyond epic.

Does the movie live up to all of the hype? I think so, but I am prone to laughter when it comes to good jokes about buttholes and stink-dicks. The Interview a silly, juvenile movie delivered by some goofy, mischievous guys. It is not some sort of patriotic manifesto intelligently taking a stand against North Korea. For that sort of movie, you must look elsewhere. This film is about the political ramifications of a world leader sharting on live TV. 

Published in Reviews

Once upon a time, there was a new director who seemed to have a very promising career ahead of him. In 1998, Jake Kasdan made his directorial debut with the excellent Zero Effect, one of that year’s best movies. It still stands as one of Ben Stiller’s best efforts—and Kasdan even wrote the thing.

Since then, Kasdan’s films have gotten progressively worse (Orange County, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Bad Teacher). Now comes this mess starring Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz, an ugly comedy that tries to get laughs out of people being very, very uncomfortable.

The two play a husband and wife who don’t know how to really have sex with each other any more, so they make a sex video using an iPad. Then, that video syncs up with a bunch of other iPads that they gave away as gifts—so a bunch of friends and family are at risk of seeing them naked and sweaty.

Somehow, Kasdan manages to work in an overlong bit featuring Segel getting attacked by a dog; meanwhile, supporting stars like Rob Corddry and Rob Lowe labor for laughs.

The film feels like a flat, dated and shameless piece of advertising for Internet porn and Apple—a company which must be seriously regretting the decision to allow their products to be used in this movie.

Also, let it be known that Diaz and Segel look and sound absolutely disgusting when they are making out.

Sex Tape is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Director Steven Soderbergh has said Behind the Candelabra, based on the memoirs of Liberace’s former lover Scott Thorson, would be his last film. If so, he’s going out on a great note. (I find it hard to believe that Soderbergh will never direct again but, hey, you never know.)

Michael Douglas plays the legendary pianist and will certainly be in contention for an Emmy after this, one of his best performances. He captures that funny, overly happy, flamboyant personality that many of us who lived through the 1970s remember so well. He gives one of show business’ greatest caricatures a soul.

As Thorson, one of Liberace’s last boyfriends, Matt Damon is as good, if not better, than Douglas. The two—with Soderbergh’s help, of course—make Liberace and Thorson one of the more compelling screen couples this year.

I was surprised at how funny the film is. Rob Lowe is terrific as Dr. Jack Startz, the facial architect who masterminded Liberace and Thorson’s plastic surgeries. One of the film’s more nightmarish elements is how freaky Liberace, Startz and Thorson look after these procedures. Thorson, who was a very young man when he began his relationship with Liberace, got many unnecessary surgeries, allegedly to achieve a look Liberace found most attractive. For example, he got a dimple put in his chin for the hell of it.

Soderbergh wanted this to be a theatrical release, but has publicly stated that the major studios turned down the film because it’s “too gay.” What a shame. It contains some work that would’ve qualified for Oscar contention. Not only are the performances stellar; the costumes are worthy of accolades as well. Those fur coats and capes are to die for.

Kudos to HBO for backing the project when others wouldn’t. This is a great story for cinema, and it’s good that it found a venue. 

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing