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Archive for April, 2009

Funny Farm comedy club shuts down

The Funny Farm Comedy Club in Roswell had its last laugh Sunday after more than eight years and an estimated 250,000 patrons.

The comedy club was part of Startime Entertainment, a complex which included a miniature golf course, go karts, a video arcade, a sports bar and batting cages. Funny Farm manager Marshall Chiles said the operation was in debt and could no longer pay its bills.

The Funny Farm itself was the most successful component of Startime, Chiles said, but it alone could not carry the load anymore.

Ron White does a special warm-up gig at the Funny Farm in April, 2008, before his Fox Theatre appearance. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Ron White does a special warm-up gig at the Funny Farm in April, 2008, before his Fox Theatre appearance. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Over the years, the club has attracted talent such as actor Bob Saget, Marietta native and “Grace Under Fire” star Brett Butler, “Partridge Family’s” Danny Bonaduce and “Saturday Night Live” alum Jon Lovitz. ”Blue Collar Comedy Tour” standup and local resident Ron White would regularly test out jokes for his theater tours at the Funny …

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Frankly, It Was Gable’s Breath: Critics Dish “GWTW’ Secrets

Film critic and “Frankly My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited” author Molly Haskell had just initiated a discussion about some of the more politically incorrect challenges of examining Margaret Mitchell’s legendary book and subsequent 1939 film Saturday night at the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown when she was immediately silenced.

Haskell’s words were drowned out by screeching feedback that startled the sold-out crowd.

“Careful,” panel moderator and Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne needled his old friend. “That’s Margaret Mitchell. Be careful what you say!”

Indeed, the spirit of the petite Atlanta author and former occupant of the Midtown tourist attraction was felt throughout the salute.

Osborne, the author of “80 Years of the Oscars: The Official History of the Academy Awards,” Haskell and film critic and “GWTW” director “Victor Fleming: An American Master” author Michael Sragow had gathered at the former site of Peggy Mitchell’s “dump” to commemorate the 70th …

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“The Sun Is Back In The Sky”: 99X Returns to the Airwaves

In a surprise move, 99X, the biggest rock station in Atlanta in the 1990s, went back on the FM dial Friday after 15 months online only, this time at 97.9.

Cumulus, which owns Q100 and Rock 100.5, recently took over 97.9, which is called a “translator.” It’s a relatively weak in-town signal emanating off the Q100 tower at 250 watts (vs. 100,000 watts for Q100). Even at 250 watts, it can carry reasonably well. Folks in Acworth and Woodstock have been able to hear the station.

“There’s a whole lot of excitement,” said Gary Lewis, the general manager. “The day feels different. The sun is back in the sky with 99X back on the air.” He noted that 5,500 people joined a Facebook page lamenting the end of the station on the FM dial.
If you’ve listened to the new 99X at 97.9, what do you think so far?

Lewis will remain at jock mid-days 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with B.J. Kinard from 3 to 7 p.m. and Jillian at night. Matt “Organic” Jones, a holdover from the old days, will …

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Sedaris Debuts Essays-In-Progress For Atlanta Fans

David Sedaris rarely writes about politics, but his political leanings should not come as a surprise. He is, after all, a gay man who lives in France and writes essays that he reads on NPR.
So it wasn’t as if he came out of the closet exactly Wednesday night in a sold-out appearance at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

But the first essay he read, unpublished and new to everyone but him, took on the 2008 election, California’s Proposition 8 gay marriage ban, and the image of America overseas a lot more overtly than Sedaris usually does.
As he traveled Europe in 2008, he said, he was constantly told by foreigners that the United States would never elect a black man as president. “Maybe not,” he told them, “but I’ll bet half of America could elect a half-black man.”
More typically of Sedaris’ humor, he wished that people wore campaign buttons “as big as plates, so you’d have more time to activate your scowl.”
The humorist, who has 7 million books in print and has become …

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Oscar Winner Hudson Delivers Two ‘Nights Only’ at Fox

In the four years since she was first introduced to the world as a finalist on “American Idol,” Jennifer Hudson’s ascent has been so meteoric that the accolades heaped on her have practically preceded her actual accomplishments.
She does one movie (“Dreamgirls”) — and wins an Oscar.
She records one CD (“Jennifer Hudson”) and wins a Grammy.

But if the skeptics assumed that the movie and music industries had made 27-year-old Hudson a star before she really earned it, Tuesday night’s concert at the Fox Theatre proved them wrong.

In short, Hudson is a wonder. And not just because it is remarkable that she is once out in front of audiences mere months after her mother, brother and nephew were killed.

On the first night of her two-night stand in Atlanta (the second show is tonight), the relative newcomer arrived with an ease that never let on that this is her first solo tour ever.

She has a command of not only her own rather ordinary R&B material, but such greats as …

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‘Battle’ Playwrights Now Wrestling Tree, Claims Adjusters

“Peachtree Battle” playwrights John Gibson and Anthony Morris had some offstage drama crash into their lives this week.

At the height of Monday morning’s tree-snapping storm, a six-story Georgia pine fell through the couple’s Atlanta home.

First, the good news. Morris, a law partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge, was in Philadelphia on a case. The bad news: Gibson was sleeping late in the residence’s master bedroom after working on a “Peachtree Battle” film budget until 3 a.m.

Atlanta playwrights Anthony Morris and John Gibson with "Peachtree Battle" actress Anna House.

Atlanta playwrights Anthony Morris and John Gibson with "Peachtree Battle actress Anna House.

“I just heard this enormous crack and the dogs came running,” Gibson told Buzz Tuesday. “I just yelled, ‘Everybody out!’ ”

The house’s fate likely will be determined later this week. But Gibson isn’t overly optimistic. He said the weight of the tree has now cracked a support beam in the living room. Reps from Allstate were finally able to make their way to the damage at midday Tuesday.

Throughout the crisis, the …

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Spiff, Brooks Move Up To Mornings on True Oldies 106.7

Former Fox Oldies team Spiff and Randy are now competing against each other on Atlanta's morning airwaves.

Former Fox Oldies team Spiff and Randy are now competing against each other on Atlanta's morning airwaves.

Former Fox oldies morning man Spiff Carner and his latest on-air partner Fred Brooks have knocked the considerably more controversial syndicated morning man Don Imus off the air at True Oldies 106.7. The pair has been moved up from afternoons.

“We can now officially say you are getting out of bed with Spiff and Fred!” Fred joked with listeners at the start of Monday’s broadcast.

Added Spiff: “We are open for business!”

The pair also took some congratulatory calls from fans and from some former Imus listeners, confused about the transition.
Cracked one caller: “Archaeologists are waking up and having to find that old fossil Imus.”

Replied Brooks: “They have to dig somewhere else.”

“I’ve been listening to him for 30 years,” the caller added. “He was spot on. But the last few years, he’s been going downhill. I’m glad you changed, and I hope you do …

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Young Calls on Grammy-Winning Friend For ‘Gandhi’ Doc

When Andrew Young needed a distinctive voice to read the inspirational words of Mahatma Gandhi for his latest television documentary, he just happened to have a spoken word multi-Grammy Award winner in his Rolodex.

So, the former Atlanta mayor trekked up to Wake Forest University in North Carolina to visit his old pal, poet Dr. Maya Angelou to record her for his new special, “Andrew Young Presents: In the Footsteps of Gandhi.”

Young came armed with an 81st birthday gift for his old friend, and Angelou graciously agreed to help her fellow civil rights marcher. She just wanted to know one thing: What took Young so long to ask her?

The pair have been pals for decades.

Young says he first met Angelou when she was working for Martin Luther King Jr. in New York in 1961.  Later, she came to Atlanta and campaigned for him when he was running for Congress in 1970.
Added Young: “And she has been involved in everything I’ve done ever since.”

In May of 2007, Angelou flew in to help …

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Paula Meets The Press: A Perfect Luncheon Recipe

When Food Network phenom Paula Deen arrived Friday at the Atlanta Civic Center for her speaking engagement at the Atlanta Press Club luncheon, she got to do her favorite thing.

Eat.

Gazing at the plate of food on her table, Deen told the sold-out room: “Y’all, I was afraid this was another one of those ‘trick luncheons.’ You know, where y’all get to eat and I get to work? I’m so excited that I actually get to eat at this one! I told the driver on the way over: ‘Get set to take us to The Varsity when you pick us up!’ ”

Deen was in town to sign copies of her latest book, “Paula Deen’s The Deen Family Cookbook” (Simon & Schuster, $26), which hit stores Tuesday.

The book’s family-centric recipes are perfect for today’s tough economic times.

Deen told us the country’s current financial problems and job losses are reminiscent of the aftermath of September 11 when many Food Network viewers first discovered her as they sought comfort food recipes and a much-needed laugh.

“It’s very …

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Boss Makes ‘Dream’ ATL Food Bank Donation

Bruce Springsteen’s connections to Atlanta continue to deepen. Not only has the rocker recorded his last few albums here with producer Brendan O’Brien, the singer is now lending a very needed hand to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Springsteen has donated for auction a set of four choice seats for his “Working on a Dream” tour stop at Philips Arena April 26.

Oh, and did we mention that includes meeting The Boss backstage before the show?

As locals realize, the country’s current economic meltdown has resulted in bare shelves at food charities like the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Because need is now so great in the metro area, the auction’s opening bid for the tickets is $10,000. Visit www.acfb.org to enter your bid. ACFB rep Angie Clawson tells Buzz that Springsteen is so dedicated to feeding hungry folks that he’ll match up to $50,000.

One reminder for those overly eager Springsteen aficionados who are fond of instantly splashing fan-friendly items like this across the …

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