‘American Idol’ crowns Just Sam the winner during finale

Just Sam (Samantha Diaz) is officially 2020’s “American Idol” winner. The 21-year-old Harlem native was crowned during the virtual season finale on ABC Sunday, May 17.

Local favorite Jonny West from Murrieta, who was the last Southern California performer, made it to the Top 5.

Due to the spread of novel coronavirus, “American Idol” fans were given a strange, shortened season. The show pivoted to remote performances from contestants and at-home judging from Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. Fans cast their votes virtually for this season — the 18th season overall, but the third on ABC.

Previously, the Top 7 finalists had performed songs from their favorite songs from Disney films and delivered performances that paid tribute to their moms on Mother’s Day, before heading into this week’s finale.

  • Ringo Starr performs at Segerstrom Hall on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (Photo by Kyusung Gong, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Postmaster was behind the counter at the Calico Post Office. He’s always dressed neat and tidy, but his office is a mess – and he’s always misplacing mail. This leads him to have citizens and visitors to Calico deliver mail for him upon occasion. He has not been robbed, “The Mayfields usually leave us alone, but then I’ve given up logic when the Mayfields are in question,” he said during “Ghost Town Alive” at Knott’s Berry Farm.

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  • Gold medalist Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland celebrates on the podium of the men’s individual time trial event at the Summer Olympics in Pontal beach, Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday

  • Gambian President Adama Barrow greets the crowds after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia, Thursday Jan. 26, 2017, after flying in from Dakar, Senegal. Gambia’s new president has finally arrived in the country, a week after taking the oath of office abroad amid a whirlwind political crisis. Here’s a look at the tumble of events that led to Adama Barrow’s return â and the exile of the country’s longtime leader. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

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Along with West, the remaining contestants included Just Sam, along with 22-year-old runner-up Arthur Gunn (formerly Dibesh Pokharel) originally from Nepal and now residing in Kansas; 26-year-old Bakersfield, Calif. singer-songwriter Dillon James; Louis Knight, 19, from Philadelphia, Penn.; Francisco Martin, 18, from San Francisco, Calif.; and Julia Gargano, 21 from Staten Island.

It quickly went from seven contestants to five, as Knight and Gargano were immediately eliminated. The final five were granted the opportunity to perform one last time before the voting closed. James did a soulful, twangy rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” and the cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing” that Perry noted sounded “more confident” than when he first sang it in Hawaii on the show. Martin delivered a sassy version of Harry Styles’ “Adore You” and revisited his take on “Alaska” by Maggie Rogers as fans in masks cheered him on from a balcony.

Just Sam impressed the judges with a powerful take on “American Idol” season one winner Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” and after she sang “Rise Up” by Andra Day,” Bryan said that the song was “built for her.” Gunn came in hot with Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” and cranked out yet another version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” that had Richie noting he had “the best in style and personality.”

West broke out the keyboard for “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down,” by James & Bobby Purify, and for his final song boldly decided to go with his original “Makin’ Love.” Bryan called it “radio ready” and Perry said she could hear someone like Mark Ronson producing the song. West was the final Southern Californian constant standing after Sophia James, 20, of Long Beach and Makayla Phillips, 17, of Temecula were both eliminated the week prior.

The home audiences were also treated to a performance of Perry’s new single, “Daisies,” and Bryan’s latest, “One Margarita” Sunday night and in the finale, Just Sam joined Richie and former “American Idol” contestants for “We Are the World,” which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

Before the show, the judges took to Twitter to talk about doing the show remotely and during a global pandemic.

“If you’re doing okay, help the person next to you,” Richie offered, noting that in a season of absolute chaos, the conclusion has come down to some amazing talent.

Perry said that although she was excited that someone would be crowned the new “American Idol” in 2020, she was a bit heartbroken for them in this moment. She was right; it was very anticlimactic having to do everything remotely with no big confetti finish, massive fanfare and in-venue celebration.

“It’s not like we can hug them,” she said. “We’re all just going to click off and it’s over. We don’t even get to go to Red Lobster or anything like that.”

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‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ takes on its biggest challenge. Does it succeed?

After 8 previous films in this series, as well as related movies, TV shows, cartoons, theme park attractions and one very special holiday TV special, you could be forgiven for having little hope that George Lucas’ Star Wars saga could be wrapped up in one film.

How could you hope to pull together story lines and fan theories about the original trilogy, loop in the useful parts of the trade-obsessed prequel trilogy, and somehow follow up the divisive “The Last Jedi” — which to some felt like it rejected the core myths and beliefs of the series and its predecessor “The Force Awakens” — with one single film that concludes its own trilogy and caps a trilogy of trilogies?

Well, we once had “A New Hope,” and with J.J. Abrams’ new “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” you could argue we have A Newer Hope.

Like a Tatooine farmboy who quiets the buzzing noise and bursting bombs around him to take an all-but-impossible shot, Abrams, his cast and his collaborators take theirs and succeed, delivering a thoroughly rousing final installment (or “final” until someone decides to do more) for the 42-year-old franchise.

“The Rise of Skywalker” delivers everything you want in a “Star Wars” film: action and adventure, lightsaber duels and blaster shootouts, sneaky spies and daring escapes, space chases and chaste kisses. Even a few long-standing fan gripes get moments of recognition in the film, a sort of “Yes, we heard you out there,” which is probably all most of the fangirls and boys ever wanted. There are some excellent callbacks to earlier films, and a few more forward-looking moments, including a more diverse cast and even some same-sex affection.

So what can we tell you about the story? Well, we will attempt to avoid any spoilers and just give you the basics. Like previous installments, the film starts with a crawl of yellow text that catches you up on the plot, and, if you read carefully, might offer a few hints about what’s to come. (No, we aren’t telling.)

In short, the story picks up with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo, son of Han Solo and Princess/General Leia) the new Supreme Leader of the First Order. The big emo overlord with the enflamed red lightsaber is conflicted, a fact reflected in his cracked helmet; its glowing scars resembling Japanese kintsugi, an art form that finds beauty in broken things. Ren is either crushing rebels hard or crushing hard on Daisy Ridley’s Rey, with whom he shares a bond that connects them even across distances great and small.

And what of the rest of the good guy crew, which includes old school characters such as Chewbacca and C-3PO and new heroes like Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico and John Boyega’s Finn? They get up to the kind of intrigue you want in a “Star Wars” film (or even an Indiana Jones one): The word “mission” gets used a lot, there is some sneaking around past patrolling stormtroopers and they occasionally must decide whether to befriend or fight a new acquaintance.

The film is about a war between good and evil, truth and lies, freedom and fascism. The script offers lines and some Churchillian speechifying about not giving up even when you’re afraid and reminds the audience that there are more of “us” — that is, the good guys, the non-fanatics — than there are of the jackbooted extremists. You can make of that what you will.

Abrams’ film not only manages to handle the heavy lifting of reconnecting plotlines and characters and callbacks, but it’s also very funny, much funnier than some other installments and a reminder of how a good wisecrack can make a scene.

So “The Rise of Skywalker” is exciting, fun and finds ways to wrap up multiple story lines — isn’t that enough? — but it’s also fair to say it’s not a perfect movie. It’s a little stiff and unwieldy upon takeoff before it gets warmed up and zooms off into hyperspace.

But given the much harder task of ending a long-running series, Abrams & Co. do a terrific job.

Like all the best finales, there are nods to the past that will appeal to fans of the franchise, and we can only imagine that they will love it.

That should be enough to give anyone hope.

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How Dr. Seuss and Read Across America day intersect

Success of Seuss

Saturday, March 2, 2019 would have been the 115th birthday of Theodor Geisel also known as Dr. Seuss. By 2015, Dr. Seuss’ books had been translated into 17 languages and had sold 650 million copies in 95 countries.

dr. seuss tribute

Above illustration by Kurt Snibbe, Staff

Theodor Geisel was a student at Dartmouth in 1925. He was caught by the dean with gin during Prohibition. In order to continue working at the school’s humor magazine, he adopted a pen name that used his mother’s maiden name, “Seuss.”

Dr. Seuss went on to become an editorial cartoonist during World War II, a film maker, legendary children’s book author and illustrator.

The National Education Association’s Read Across America honors Dr. Seuss’ birthday each year. Since Dr. Seuss’ birthday is on a Saturday this year, the NEA is having Read Across America on Friday, March 1, 2019.

The Read Across America site has information on how to inspire kids to pick up a book and become lifelong readers.

Here is a chronology of Seuss books

list of seuss books

Seuss Museum

If you’re in the mood to travel to Springfield Massachusetts and a Dr. Suess fan, there’s a museum and sculpture park worth seeing. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum is devoted to Springfield native Theodor Geisel.

If you’d like to buy some Dr. Seuss artwork The Art of Dr. Seuss gallery in Chicago might be the place to start looking. The gallery is dedicated to selling paintings and prints by the artist.

Sources: Seussinspringfield.org, UCSD Library, Random House, Box Office Mojo, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post and NEA

Charles Apple helped compile this report

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Oscars 2019: The red carpet turns pink

Could pink be the new black?

From voluminous ruffles to curve-hugging looks, pink in its many shades was the big color trend at the 91st Academy Awards.

Even the guys got into the act.

  • Helen Mirren arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Angela Bassett arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

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  • Kacey Musgraves arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

  • Linda Cardellini arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

  • Helen Mirren, left, and Jason Momoa present the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

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Here are some of the more memorable looks:

-Gemma Chan made a dramatic entrance in a fuchsia Maison Valentino couture gown, with a ruffled neck and deep pockets.

-Helen Mirren embraced the color trend by stepping out in a flowing pink tulle dress by Schiaparelli Haute Couture.

-Angela Bassett captured the old Hollywood glamour in her fuchsia Reem Acra gown, with its one-shoulder bubble sleeve.

-Of course, the pink trend had its misses. Take Linda Cardellini, who looked like a giant mesh shower puff when she hit the red carpet in a Schiaparelli couture gown.

-But the tulle puffs worked for Kacey Musgraves’ soft pink gown by Giambattista Valli.

-Finally, there was Jason Momoa who didn’t just hit the awards show in a dusty pink velvet Fendi tuxedo designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld. He wore a matching Fendi pink scrunchie on his wrist.

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Here’s how many time the Oscars has not had a host

No host? No problem.

The 91st Academy Awards will not have a host after Kevin Hart, who accepted the job, stepped down amid controversy over his past tweets. The Oscars have not had a host several times.

There’s something about years ending with a 9 and the show not having a host. This will be the sixth Academy Awards to not have a host, following 1939, 1969 and 1989.

Hosts with the most

  1. Bob Hope, 18
  2. Billy Crystal, 9
  3. Johnny Carson, 5
  4. Whoopi Goldberg, 4
  5. Jack Lemmon, 4 (two as co-host)

Host it notes

At the first ceremony, the winners had been announced three months before. From 1930-1940 the academy kept the results secret but gave an advance list to newspapers to enable next-day publication. This was discontinued after the Los Angeles Times published the winners in its evening edition in 1940.The sealed-envelope system began in 1941.

  • 1940: Bob Hope hosts for the first of a record 18 times.
  • 1943: 45-second speech limit is set.
  • 1953: First televised ceremony.
  • 1966: First color TV broadcast.
  • 1969: International broadcasts begin.
  • 1969-71: There was no official host. Awards were presented by Friends of Oscar, including Bob Hope, John Wayne, James Earl Jones, Barbra Streisand, and Raquel Welch.
  • 1979: In Johnny Carson’s first opening monologue, he says, “As you well know by now, this is the 51st Academy Awards. Two hours of sparkling entertainment spread out over a four-hour show.”
  • 1989: For the first time in 17 years, there is no master of ceremonies. Awards are handed out by various actors.
  • 1994: Whoopi Goldberg becomes the first woman and first African-American to serve as the solo host. She goes on to host three more times.
  • 1998: 57.25 million viewers tune in the year “Titanic” wins and Billy Crystal is host.
  • 2002: Longest ceremony: 4.5 hours. Whoopi Goldberg is host.
  • 2008: Jon Stewart’s last time hosting gets one of the smallest TV audiences for the ceremony in 20 years: 31.8 million viewers.
  • 2009: Hugh Jackman’s low-budget opening montage referencing the recession receives a standing ovation.
  • 2010: The first telecast to have more than a single host since 1987. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin share the stage.
  • 2011: James Franco and Anne Hathaway host. The show is ranked the worst ever by TV Guide and Variety.
  • 2013: Seth MacFarlane’s song referencing breasts is criticized as crass and inappropriate.
  • 2016: In Chris Rock’s opening segment, he says, “No black actors nominated. I thought about stepping down as host, but the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”

Hosts by the year and U.S. TV viewers (starting in 1974)

* Not all hosts listed# Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president

Oscars hosts

Sources: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Box Office Mojo, Internet Movie Database, Nielsen Media Research Inc., Variety, TV Guide Photos by The Associated Press

 

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Wyatt Earp was a gunfighter, gambler and gung-ho for California

Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles 90 years ago Jan. 13, 1929. He is famous for his part in the O.K. Corral gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona, but lived most of his life and is buried in California.

It wasn’t until after his death that Wyatt Earp was glorified as a gunfighting lawman. During his life, only one film mentioned him by name, and Earp traveled the West mostly as a gambler, brothel owner/bouncer and boxing referee.

Earp collage

  • 1848: Wyatt Earp is born in Monmouth, Illinois. He is the fourth child of Nicholas and Virginia Ann Earp.
  • 1861: Wyatt Earp’s older brothers Newton, James, and Virgil join the Union forces for the Civil War. Some recounts say Wyatt Earp made several attempts to enlist at age 13.
  • 1864: The Earp family joins a wagon train heading to San Bernardino.
  • 1865: Wyatt’s Earp’s brothers come home from the Civil War. He helps his brother, Virgil Earp, as a stagecoach driver.
  • 1866: Wyatt Earp explores the West while hauling freight to towns in Arizona and California.
  • 1868: His father leaves California for Missouri. Wyatt Earp gets a job at a railroad company in Wyoming. During this time he referees boxing and picks up gambling.
  • 1869: He rejoins his family in Lamar, Missouri. His father retires as the town’s constable. Wyatt Earp takes up the position.
  • 1870: He marries Urilla Sutherland, who dies within the year.
  • 1871: Wyatt Earp and two others are accused of stealing horses in Arkansas. He avoids punishment by fleeing to Illinois, while the two others are acquitted.
  • 1872-74: He owns saloons, gambles and is arrested several times for his involvement with prostitutes.
  • 1874: Wyatt Earp helps a lawman in Wichita, Kansas, catch a wagon thief. The town hires him as a police officer.
  • 1876: He moves to Dodge City, Kansas, where his brother James Earp runs a brothel. Wyatt Earp becomes an assistant marshal. He also spends time in the gold rush town of Deadwood in the Dakota Territory.
  • 1877: His parents relocate to San Bernardino County.
  • 1878: Doc Holliday comes to the aid of Earp after a commotion breaks out in a saloon. The two become friends.
  • 1879: Jim Earp, Wyatt Earp and his former prostitute wife, Mattie Blaylock, move to Tombstone, Arizona, where his brother Virgil Earp has claims for silver mines and was hired as a U.S. marshal. They are later joined by brother Morgan Earp and Holliday. Wyatt Earp works for a stage line and then is hired as a deputy sheriff and tax collector.
  • March 1881: Wyatt Earp and a posse of lawmen go after a group who killed a stagecoach driver. They find and arrest only one.
  • Oct. 25, 1881: Ike Clanton, with ties to the stagecoach robbers, spends the night in Tombstone drinking heavily and making threats against the Earps.
  • Oct. 26, 1881: Tensions between the Earps and the cowboys result in the battle at the O.K. Corral. In a 30-second gunfight, Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp and Holliday face five cowboys. Three cowboys are killed (Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton). Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday are wounded.
  • Dec. 28, 1881: Virgil Earp is shot while walking into a saloon in Tombstone and his left arm is crippled for life. The shooter is not found but is suspected to be Ike Clanton.
  • March 18, 1882: Morgan Earp is killed. His wife and Virgil Earp take his body to Colton. Wyatt Earp forms a posse that seeks out and kills four of the cowboys suspected of Morgan Earp’s murder.
  • 1882: Wyatt Earp leaves Tombstone to join Virgil Earp in San Francisco. He meets up with an old acquaintance, Josephine Marcus. They head to Colton, where Virgil Earp takes part in the railroad confrontation called “the battle of the crossing.” Virgil Earp is elected Colton’s first marshal in 1887.

Virgil and Josephine

  • 1884: Wyatt Earp and Marcus roam the West (New Mexico, Idaho, and California) looking for gold and holding horse races.
  • 1888: The couple spend time in San Diego. Wyatt Earp referees and gambles while owning several saloons.
  • 1891: The couple return to San Francisco to be closer to her family.
  • 1897: After Wyatt Earp referees a boxing match in San Francisco in which corruption is claimed, he heads north to Nome, Alaska, and opens a saloon that makes a small fortune.
  • 1900: The couple split time between Seattle and San Francisco.
  • 1901: Wyatt Earp moves to Los Angeles, where he begins to advise the silent movie industry.
  • 1904: Virgil Earp joins Wyatt Earp in the boomtown of Goldfield, Nevada, and becomes a deputy sheriff. Virgil Earp dies of pneumonia in 1905.
  • 1906: Wyatt Earp resides in Los Angeles and Vidal, California, where he mines copper and gold.
  • 1920s: Wyatt Earp is an honorary deputy sheriff in San Bernardino County.
  • Jan. 13, 1929: Wyatt Earp dies in Los Angeles at 80. He is the last surviving Earp brother and participant in the O.K. Corral gunfight. His ashes are placed by Marcus in the Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California.
  • 1931: Stuart N. Lake’s book, “Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal,” a largely ficticious story, portrays Earp as a heroic lawman.

How the West was spun

In 2010, AMC ranked the best Wyatt Earp movies. Here are the top three and who played Earp.

Wyatt Earp movies

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Golden Globes 2019: The show as told by GIFs

The 2019 Golden Globes marked a different tone from last year’s theme of activism against sexual misconduct that dominated both the speeches and the fashion choices.

From Jeff Bridges’ speech to Sandra Oh’s groundbreaking win during Sunday show, it was a night worthy of GIFs.

1. Jim Carrey being told to move tables during the opening by the “two nicest people in show business,” Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh.

2. When Sandra Oh’s dad gave his daughter a standing ovation when she won the Golden Globe for lead actress in a drama.

Sandra Oh’s father applauding her win just ENDED ME <3 pic.twitter.com/e6G45F8flT

— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) January 7, 2019

3. Jeff Bridges winning and inspiring everyone’s hearts and during his rambling yet charming speech.

4. Everyone loves Carol Burnett so much that they debuted a new award after her.

5. When Olivia Colman, who won best actress in a motion picture — comedy/musical gave this weird shoutout:

6. Bill Murray walking up to present an award with the winner’s envelope in one hand and a goblet in the other.

7.  And the winner of “Most surprised reaction of Glenn Close winning best actress in a motion picture drama” is… Glenn Close

8. And the biggest surprise of the night, a double win for “Bohemian Rhapsody” for Actor, in Motion Picture – Drama, which went to Rami Malek, and Drama Motion Picture.

Rami Malek gave a special thanks to Queen singer, Freddie Mercury.

And that’s a wrap for the 2019 Golden Globes – here’s a list of all the winners from tonight’s show.

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These are the youngest comic book creators at Comic-Con 2018

Educators face challenges as they try to stoke a passion for reading and writing in young people.

“There are games and electronics,” said Stephanie Jones, a teacher at Loma Verde Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “It’s always hard to find a way to outreach to these students, to make them more interested and passionate about learning to read and write.”


Izzy Fergus, 11, left, Stephanie Jones, Danita Mia Valle, 12, Aaron Felix, 14, and Alex Macias, 14, all of Chula Vista at their B.L.A.S.T. Graphic Novel Project booth during the last day of the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Then one year while attending Comic-Con International, Jones and her friend, Deidre Romero, also a teacher at Loma Verde Elementary School, had an idea. With the popularity of comic book heroes and graphic novels, why not teach children how to create their own books? That’s when B.L.A.S.T — Blazing Literacy Artists Super Team — Graphic Novel Project was born.

For the last seven years, the friends have created a program that is currently in about four schools.

“I think it’s a really good idea to get little kids involved in reading and writing and drawing – that way they can appreciate writing,” said 11-year-old Izzy Fergus, who created a story about a family of aliens who left their home planet after the population learned of their president’s evil plan to take over their entire world. The intergalactic clan crashes on the front lawn of an Earth family’s home and now both have to learn how to get along and live together.

Izzy was among six students, ranging in age from 10 to 14, to attend SDCC this year.

“We’re the only exhibitors in the history of Comic-Con to have elementary-age comic creators,” Romero proudly proclaimed.

“I was a little nervous coming,” said Edgar Zamora, 11. “You wonder if people will like what you did, but then your friends tell you to keep going.”

By Sunday, all of the comics, including Edgar’s story about a battle between two worlds, were completely gone.

Word of the B.L.A.S.T program began to spread across the convention floor and a handful of professional artists made their way to the student’s table at the back of the enormous space to speak to the young creators.

“Yesterday, the Marvel artist, Joshua Cassara, came by and talked to the kids,” Romero said. Cassara was an artist on Marvel’s “Falcon” book.


Graphic novels made by youth members of the B.L.A.S.T. Graphic Novel Project as seen during the last day of the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

“They come here and they give them advice and tell them not to give up,” Romero said.

Two boys, Alex Macias and Aaron Felix, both 14, have been with the program for five years and helped guide the first-timers, like Danira Valle, 12, and Angel Guzman, 10, about what to expect at the convention.

“It’s been fun and it’s so big,” said Angel as he sat at the table handing out cards and fliers about the program which have information on how to donate to the program.

The small program is gaining traction within the Chula Vista district, but both Jones and Romero would like to grow it across San Diego County and beyond.

The program is not funded through the district, so Romero and Jones and two other teachers have worked hard to raise the money throughout the year to purchase supplies, print the comics and purchase the $600 table at SDCC. Like most teachers, when they fall short, they sometimes reach into their own pockets.

That spark has definitely ignited something in Aaron.

“It’s something that I really love and it’s a passion of mine,” said the 14-year-old, who says he now aspires to be a professional comic book creator.

“We feel this is an experience that should be open to all children,” Romero said. “They should all have that opportunity and know that they can do more.”

For donation information, contact Jones at iamst.jones@aol.com.

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Comic-Con 2018: 5 ways Stephen King impacted ‘Castle Rock’ creation and actors

Even though Stephen King wasn’t around for the introduction of “Castle Rock” to Comic-Con International on Friday, the author’s name was on everyone’s lips.

Here are five ways the Master of Horror impacted not only the creation of the new Hulu series but also the showrunners and actors themselves.

1. Studying Stephen King

Creators and executive producers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason said they grew up on King and revered the writer.

“We never would have done it without his blessing and a feeling that we were delivering something creatively that he was going to be happy with,” Thomason said. “I think that ultimately … every character choice, every setting of his that we wanted to use in this first season, we went to him and we made sure that he was comfortable with it.”

To create the series, they had to build a “graduate level seminar on Stephen King” to divide and conquer the library of King’s work, according to Shaw.

  • Sissy Spacek attends a panel discussion following the world premiere of “Castle Rock” on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Melanie Lynskey, from left, Bill Skarsgard and Sissy Spacek attend a panel discussion following the world premiere of “Castle Rock” on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

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  • Jane Levy, left, speaks as Melanie Lynskey looks on at a panel discussion following the world premiere of “Castle Rock” on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Jane Levy speaks at a panel discussion following the world premiere of “Castle Rock” on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Jane Levy attends a panel discussion following the world premiere of “Castle Rock” on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Bill Skarsgard, left, speaks as Sissy Spacek looks on during a panel discussion following the world premiere of “Castle Rock” on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Melanie Lynskey, left, speaks as Bill Skarsgard looks on a panel discussion following the world premiere of “Castle Rock” on day two of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 20, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

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“We’d sit around and try to anatomize what it is that makes a Stephen King story a Stephen King story,” he said. “What is essential to the DNA of the stories?”

The answer to that question is what helped Shaw and Thomason launch the “Castle Rock” series.

2. Small town tensions

According to Shaw, what lured him and Thomason down the path of “Castle Rock” was their love of the American small town and the secrets that can lie within.

“Part of what we always loved as readers of Stephen King was how specific his anthropology of New England and of Maine was in the sense that he really lovingly became an archivist of small town life there,” Shaw said during a press roundtable Friday. “And so it was exciting for us to check in there on this town that we’ve been reading about for a long time and re-imagine it in 2018.”

In just 5 days #CastleRock will open its gates. Come and join us July 25 on @hulu. pic.twitter.com/XnSBurHWBk

— Castle Rock (@castlerockhulu) July 20, 2018

3. Unexpected turns

“One thing that we love about Stephen King is the way that you can go on a Stephen King ride and never know exactly what ride you’re on,” Thomason said. “Sense of the unexpected is something that we really wanted to achieve.”

The creators of “Castle Rock” kept the detailed storylines a secret from the actors during the audition phase.

The secretiveness of the show almost scared Bill Skarsgård, who played Pennywise the clown in the 2017 remake of the film “IT” based on a King novel, away. Skarsgård, who became one of the main stars of the show, was a little hesitant to even apply for the role.

“I was reluctant. I just did something in that world and I don’t know how this interferes with the ‘IT’ narrative really,” Skarsgård said. “As soon as they allowed me to read the pilot that all changed. I fell in love with the show.”

After meeting the writers, Skarsgård said he was in all the way.

#BillSkarsgard discussing his initial hesitation taking the #CastleRock roll after recently being in the remake of #StephenKing’s #IT. #ComicCon #SDCC2018 pic.twitter.com/9AD4lOBqDP

— Sarah Batcha (@SarahBatcha) July 21, 2018

4. Appreciating horror

“With ‘IT’ the book was a bible to me because that was a source material that we were adapting,” Skarsgård said.

While Skarsgård said he’s only read about five to six of the novels by the prolific writer, costar Melanie Lynskey said she began reading King at a young age.

“I was a fan of a Stephen King probably too early. I think I was like 10 when I started reading his books, so I felt pretty well versed” coming into the role of Molly, Lynskey said. “I didn’t do any extra reading for the show, but I already loved his stuff.”

For Jane Levy coming into her role as Jackie on “Castle Rock” made her realize how much of King’s work she didn’t actually know, such as “The Shawshank Redemption” film being based off one of the author’s short stories.

Since taking the role, Levy says she’s become a huge fan of King.

“Such a fascinating person, really no comparison,” she said. “I’m honored to be part of the universe.”

Levy also noted that through her “Castle Rock” role she’s realized that she’s actually a fan of the horror genre, which is in tune with her character who loves the macabre.

“Maybe I am an actual huge horror fan,” she said. “Whenever a horror movie comes out it’s the only thing that without absolute fail will get me to the movie theater.”

5. Connecting worlds

Levy’s character’s last name is Torrance, a name any “constant reader” — what King calls his fans — should know hearkens back to the Torrance family in “The Shining.” It’s yet to be revealed exactly what Jackie’s connection may be to Jack Torrance, an alcoholic family man who became not so friendly to his family during their stay at the Overlook Hotel.

“She brushes up very close to a famous King character,” is all Levy would say about Jackie.

The Shawshank State Penitentiary becomes a predominant location that connects the “Castle Rock” characters — most notably Henry Deaver, an attorney from the “Needful Things” novel portrayed by André Holland, to Skarsgård’s character who has been in solitary confinement at the prison.

There are plenty of other connections that will be made clear as the series progresses, according to the creators. Shaw said that even PhD-level King fans will be able to find clues throughout the the series and King’s immersive universe.

Read more about Comic-Con 2018: 5 ways Stephen King impacted ‘Castle Rock’ creation and actors This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. OC Shredding Business

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Comic-Con 2018: Why ‘Supernatural’ fans serenaded a cardboard Jared Padalecki in a San Diego bar

Jules Wilkinson walked in front of the Analog Bar in the Gaslamp Quarter, greeting friends and fellow fans of “Supernatural” as they arrived for the Comic-Con 2018 party she’s now thrown three different times in San Diego for the die-hard following of the CW show.

“I was coming to Comic-Con and I couldn’t believe that ‘Supernatural,’ one of the biggest fandoms in the world, didn’t have a party,” says Wilkinson, a women’s healthcare worker, writer and comedian who lives in Melbourne, Australia. “So I said, ‘Let’s have a party,’ and we started to plan one.”

  • Author Britta Lundin, left, hugs Jane Hightower, of Bellflower, after she won Lundin’s book “Ship It” in a raffle as Michelle DÕAngelo, of San Diego, at right, celebrates finding the last raffle winner during the Supernatural fan party at Analog bar at Comic Con 2018 in San Diego on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cardboard cutouts of Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester, Misha Collins as Castiel and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, from left, at the Supernatural fan party hosted by supernaturalwiki.com founder Jules Wilkinson at Analog Bar during Comic Con 2018 in San Diego on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Host Jules Wilkinson announces birthday cake to fellow fans of the show to celebrate Supernatural star Jared Padalecki’s birthday during the Supernatural fan party at Analog bar during Comic Con 2018 in San Diego on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Fans of the show Supernatural gather for a fan party at Analog bar during Comic Con 2018 in San Diego on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jules Wilkinson, host of the Supernatural fan party at Analog bar, prepares to lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Supernatural star Jared Padalecki, seen here in a cardboard cutout, during Comic Con 2018 in San Diego on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Raffle items sit on a table during the Supernatural fan party at Analog bar at Comic Con 2018 in San Diego on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Host Jules Wilkinson calls out raffle numbers during the Supernatural fan party at Analog bar at Comic Con 2018 in San Diego on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jules Wilkinson, host of the Supernatural fan party at Analog bar, prepares to lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Supernatural star Jared Padalecki, seen here in a cardboard cutout, during Comic Con 2018 in San Diego on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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The bar was packed with fans like Pablo Machado, a college student from Guadalajara, Mexico, who said that while the show is terrific, the sense of community among its fans is even more of an appeal to him.

“It’s a very appealing feeling,” Machado said. “I don’t know what this fandom will do when it ends. It will be mass hysteria.”

He was kidding, we think, but so far there’s no end in sight for the story of two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively, who travel the country in a ’67 Impala hunting ghosts and demons and other things that go bump in the night.

While at least one supporting actress from the show was somewhere in the party, Ruth Connell, who plays Rowena MacLeod, the mother of Crowley the King of Hell, the life-sized cardboard cutouts of stars Padalecki, Ackles and Misha Collins had their own place of honor. Padalecki’s cardboard doppelganger even had a large chocolate cake placed before him, or it, and a crowd of fans singing happy birthday to it, or him, in honor of his 36th birthday on Thursday.

Aron Brown of Los Angeles said she only recently got into the show, after friends who’ve long been into it finally convinced her to try it.

“People talk about it like they’re people they know,” she said of the way “Supernatural” mixes relatable characters with magical elements. “It feels like people you know.”

“Supernatural” has lasted 13 seasons and is approaching 300 episodes — first on the WB and now the CW network — and its longevity is part of the reason for the strength of its fandom, Wilkinson said. But its fans have also engaged with it in ways that followers of other shows do not, writing fan fiction, creating fan art and being rewarded by the strong social media presence of its stars.

“It has a lot of mythology, and everything from pop culture to religion, which seems to translate well around the world,” she said. “But at its heart it’s about building a family.  Fandom is often a family of choice. The characters find their family, and that’s true in the fandom as well.”

Tickets for the party included dinner of mahi mahi tacos, sliders, jalapeño macaroni and cheese and vegan Asian salad. Dessert was apple cobbler and Padalecki’s birthday cake – it’s not like he was there to eat it.

Raffle tickets were sold to raise money for charity, with prizes that included the “Supernatural” edition of Monopoly and personally autographed copies of Britta Lundin’s new YA novel “Ship It,” a story that fits neatly into the world of this specific show and fandoms at large, Lundin said.

“Supernatural” is a perfect mix of fantastic action and feelings, said Lundin, of Los Angeles, who when not writing YA novels is a writer on the CW series “Riverdale.”

“In the same episode you’ll have a character fighting ghosts and also crying about his father,” she said. ‘And that’s an intoxicating mix.”

That 150 or so people showed up to celebrate their mutual love of the show is all Wilkinson says she really needs.

“I always say fandom is my fandom,” she said. “It’s about these people. It’s know I can throw a party and people will meet and become friends.”

Read more about Comic-Con 2018: Why ‘Supernatural’ fans serenaded a cardboard Jared Padalecki in a San Diego bar This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

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