Tag Archives: fox

SPOILER ALERT: Gotham films second-season scene in Ridgewood


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The streets of Ridgewood were transformed into the gritty backdrop for the filming of Fox’s hit television series “Gotham” on Tuesday afternoon.

The show’s lead actor, Ben McKenzie, brought his character Det. James Gordon to life in a fast-paced action sequence filmed beneath the Seneca Avenue M train station. The intersection of Palmetto Street and Seneca Avenue was transformed into the fictitious Gotham City corner of Harlow Avenue and Wattford Street for the shoot.

The daytime shoot captured a scene with McKenzie facing off against an original costumed super-villain claiming to be the “Zarnod, Reaper of Souls.”

McKenzie’s character Gordon was busy directing traffic on real-life Seneca Avenue when the villain struck, taking a pedestrian hostage on the sidewalk.

Gordon approached with his gun drawn and battled the fiend beneath the bright red awning of the Crown Fried Chicken restaurant on the corner of Seneca Avenue and Palmetto Street.

The cast and crew filmed multiple takes of the scene from a variety of angles and vantage points, and filmed well into the afternoon. The Gottscheer Hall on Fairview Avenue served as the holding area for the film shoot. The hall’s main dining room served as a makeup and wardrobe area for the cast.

When filming wrapped, the cast and crew returned to the dining hall for a large meal before moving onto the next location on Johnson Avenue in Bushwick.

Tuesday’s shoot marks the second time “Gotham” used Ridgewood as the location for the Dark Knight’s hometown. Back in February, the show filmed a scene at the same location featuring classic Batman villain The Riddler, played by actor Corey Michael Smith.

The scene shot Tuesday will be featured in the upcoming second season of “Gotham” set to air on Fox in the fall.


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Queens sitcom ‘Weird Loners’ canceled after six episodes


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Michael Becker / FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting

Updated Monday, May 18, 12:34 p.m.

“Weird Loners,” a new Fox comedy set in Queens, has been reportedly canceled after just six episodes following low ratings.

The sitcom, starring Becki Newton, Zachary Knighton, Meera Rohit Kumbhani and Nate Torrence, debuted to 1.8 million viewers and an 0.8 in the 18 to 49 age demographic, “making it the season’s lowest rated show on a major broadcast network,” according to Entertainment Weekly.

The show focused on four relationship-challenged 30-somethings who unexpectedly end up in each other’s lives and start bonding while living next door to each other in Queens.

Created by Michael J. Weithorn, who also co-created “The King of Queens,” “Weird Loners” was one of only a handful of shows in TV history to be set in the borough.

After setting “The King of Queens,” which ran on CBS from 1998 to 2007, in Rego Park, Weithorn decided to use Ridgewood as inspiration for the backdrop of “Weird Loners.”

Weithorn, in an email to The Courier, said he was disappointed by the cancellation, but believed its success would have been helped by a “promotional effort on the network’s part.”

“It’s very hard to launch a new show if it has no stars, no high concept to sell,” he said. “Character and dialogue-driven comedies like this one take a while to find and build an audience, and that only happens when the network is willing to commit to the show for at least a full season and spend money on its promotion. Six episodes, late in the season, with very light promotion — we never had a chance.”

Weithorn added that he was “thrilled” the show did make it to six episodes, and in this day, people will be able to find the show on streaming services.

As far as setting any future shows in Queens, Weithorn doesn’t have any current plans, but didn’t rule out the possibility in the future.

“There’s probably a good chance that I will if the show lends itself to that kind of setting, but I have no specific ideas at the moment.”

In creating “Weird Loners,” Weithorn had the set designer research the old buildings of Ridgewood for the Los Angeles-shot show, and a Polish delicatessen he visited in the area as a child helped him come up with the background of the two main male characters, who are children of Polish immigrants.

According to Weithorn, though the setting is based on Ridgewood, the show’s initial episodes did not mention the neighborhood directly. There were future plans, however, to more directly feature the neighborhood had the show continued.

To mark the show’s March 31 premiere and second episode the following week, a group of Ridgewood locals got together at a neighborhood bar, Queens Tavern.

Steven Lewis, co-owner of the bar, and Sarah Feldman from Ridgewood Social, who both had the idea to hold a screening party, were joined by about two dozen other people to cheer and jeer at the new sitcom.

Reactions were mixed during the debut episode, as some booed at the large living room of Becki Newton’s character Caryn, called the comedy “corny,” and questioned its portrayal of Ridgewood.

Others had positive reactions and one viewer even said it “had potential” and a “‘New Girl’ vibe.”

“New Girl,” unlike “Weird Loners,” will be on the Fox schedule this fall. Another canceled comedy on the network, “The Mindy Project,” which had previously been in the “Weird Loners” 9:30 p.m. Tuesday time slot behind “New Girl,” is set to be revived on Hulu. “Weird Loners,” however, appears to be a short-lived series.

 

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Ridgewood reacts to first episode of ‘Weird Loners’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANTHONY GIUDICE 

Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery.

A group of Ridgewood residents had mixed feelings as they gathered at a local bar to watch the premiere of “Weird Loners,” a new Fox comedy that uses the area as the inspiration for the show’s setting.

“The group [that lives in the] house in the show represents the patrons of the bar,” said Steven Lewis, co-owner of Queens Tavern, who, with Sarah Feldman from Ridgewood Social, had the idea to hold a screening party at the bar. “There has never been a show centered in Ridgewood on TV. The show was better than I thought it would be.”

“Weird Loners” centers on four relationship-challenged 30-somethings who unexpectedly end up in each other’s lives and start bonding while living next door to each other in a Queens townhouse.

According to creator and executive producer Michael J. Weithorn, the setting is based on Ridgewood, though the show’s current scripts don’t directly mention the area. There are future plans, however, to more directly feature the neighborhood in the sitcom.

 Becki Newton as Caryn, Zachary Knighton as Stosh, Meera Rohit Kumbhani as Zara and Nate Torrence as Eric (Michael Becker / FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting)


Becki Newton as Caryn, Zachary Knighton as Stosh, Meera Rohit Kumbhani as Zara and Nate Torrence as Eric (Michael Becker/FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting)

About 25 to 30 people came out to the Queens Tavern Tuesday night to check out the show’s 9:30 p.m. debut and share their opinions, with the bar handing out noisemakers to the crowd so they could jeer at any mention of the borough.

During the fun and sarcastic mood of the evening, the crowd booed at the large living room of Becki Newton’s character Caryn and the exterior shots of the neighborhood. Weithorn had the set designer research Ridgewood’s old buildings, but the show was shot in Los Angeles.

“The show was corny,” said Morgan Pielli, who has lived in Ridgewood for two and a half years. “I thought it represented Ridgewood terribly. The set looked nothing like it.”

Liz Babish, who has also resided in Ridgewood for around two years and hails from New Jersey, was more optimistic about “Weird Loners” as a comedy, but said it wasn’t a reflection of her area.

“It has potential,” she said. “The show has a ‘New Girl’ vibe. Ridgewood was not represented at all.”

Babish was right about the “New Girl” feel — Jake Kasdan, an executive producer for the Zooey Deschanel series, is also an executive producer for “Weird Loners,” and even directed the pilot.

Attendees overall had positive reactions to the entertainment value of the first episode, which lays out how the four main characters — Caryn (Becki Newton), Stosh (Zachary Knighton), Zara (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) and Eric (Nate Torrence) meet and end up living adjacent to each other in Queens. The final scene finds the foursome mocking and then crashing a nighttime wedding in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

But they felt the comedy featured little of Ridgewood, and what it did portray wasn’t an accurate depiction.

“It didn’t show anything of Ridgewood. I hope it gets more street views of Ridgewood,” said Timothy Bakth, who has lived in Ridgewood for all 31 years of his life. “Being from Ridgewood my entire life, I wish they would have taken a look at Ridgewood 10 years ago; many things have changed.”

Queens Tavern is holding another viewing party next week, on April 7 at 9 p.m. “Weird Loners” airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.

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Ridgewood bar to hold viewing party for ‘Weird Loners’ premiere


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Michael Becker / FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting

The neighborhood that inspired the backdrop of a new Fox comedy will be holding a viewing party at a local bar for its premiere that is likely to be filled with more jeers than cheers.

Weird Loners” is about four relationship-challenged 30-somethings who unexpectedly end up in each other’s lives and start bonding while living next door to each other.

Creator and executive producer Michael J. Weithorn, who also co-created “The King of Queens,” decided to use Ridgewood as the setting for the show.

He had the set designer research the old buildings of the neighborhood for the Los Angeles-shot show, and used a Polish delicatessen he visited in the area as a child for the inspiration for the background of two of the characters.

But these attempts to replicate Ridgewood don’t seem to be sitting well with some of its own who are planning on attending a party to watch its depiction on the small screen.

A “Let’s Watch ‘Weird Loners’ Together…Party” is set for Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Queens Tavern, at 68-69 Fresh Pond Rd., hosted by Sarah Feldman from Ridgewood Social, who will be grabbing the mic during commercial breaks. According to the event description:

Grab a beer and uncomfortably watch the first episode at Queens Tavern on their full screen! Be in awe of how large their indoor apartment is! Then ask yourself… “if that is considered weird by mainstream standards… what am I?” Make bets with your fellow friends on how long until this show gets cancelled!

P.S. The word “Quooklyn” is banned from the party.

If the show does get the ax early on, locals won’t need to worry about any direct references to Ridgewood.

According to Weithorn the show’s current scripts don’t directly mention the neighborhood so far, but there are future plans to feature it more prominently in the comedy.

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New Fox comedy set in Queens premiering March 31


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Michael Becker / FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting

The co-creator of “The King of Queens” is bringing the borough back to the small screen with a new Fox comedy premiering this month.

Weird Loners” focuses on four relationship-challenged 30-somethings who unexpectedly end up in each other’s lives and start bonding while living next door to each other in a neighborhood that’s supposed to be Ridgewood.

Unlike some sitcoms featuring single urbanites, the comedy speaks to the stigma of being older and still being alone, according to creator and executive producer Michael J. Weithorn.

“There is the feeling that their lives are getting away from them,” Weithorn said. “But they bond together because they find each other.”

The show stars Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”) as Caryn Goldfarb — described as a cute but high-strung dental hygienist who is love-crazed and an ultra-romantic. Her overeagerness and infatuation in her dating life has left her chronically single.

Zachary Knighton (“Happy Endings”) plays Stosh Lewandoski who is handsome, charming, smart and great at seducing women, but can’t maintain an intimate relationship. After losing his corporate condo, he is forced to move in with his cousin in Queens.

Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting

Michael Becker/FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting

Nate Torrence (“Hello Ladies”) plays his cousin Eric — a toll collector who is described as a sweet, odd man-child. He lives in his family home with his parents until they pass away and Stosh moves in with him.

Newcomer Meera Rohit Kumbhani plays Zara Sandhu — a mysterious and ethereal woman who likes to live in the moment. A lifelong heartbreaker, men and women regularly fall in love with her. After leaving yet another lover, she moves in with Caryn, who lives next door to Eric and Stosh.

These four characters may be considered “Weird Loners,” but the title is somewhat ironic according to Weithorn because everyone is a weird loner in a way.

“They’re just like all of us…they just have not been able to figure out how to do this one thing,” he said.

Weithorn, a Fresh Meadows native, started creating relatable characters based in Queens with his hit sitcom “The King of Queens,” which ran on CBS from 1998 to 2007.

“I feel like I can write [characters] better if I can feel what it’s like when they walk out their front door,” he said.

Ray Mickshaw / FOX. Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting.

Ray Mickshaw/FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting

Weithorn’s shows haven’t been the only series set in the borough. “All in the Family” (1971-1979) was supposed to take place in Astoria, though the actual home is located in Glendale; and “Dear John” (1988–1992) was about a high school teacher who is forced to move to an apartment in Rego Park after divorcing his wife. Ugly Betty (2006–2010) focused on the title character’s job at the Manhattan offices of a top fashion magazine, but the dramedy also prominently featured the protagonist’s family home in Jackson Heights.

“The King of Queens” is the only one of the group to put the name of borough in the title, which was hard to sell at first, according to Weithorn. The title was given the go-ahead after the “Queens” was made into a street sign so people would know that Queens was a destination.

“I think we bombarded the American public with the image of Queens,” he said of the show, which is now in syndication.

After setting “The King of Queens” in Rego Park, Weithorn decided to use Ridgewood as the backdrop for “Weird Loners.”

Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting.

Michael Becker/FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting

Weithorn had the set designer research the old buildings of the neighborhood for the Los Angeles-shot show, and used a Polish delicatessen he visited in the area as a child for the inspiration for the background of Stosh and Eric.

The two characters are children of Polish immigrants, a fact that is displayed proudly in Stosh’s name and the Polish banter the two sometimes have.

Weithorn doesn’t believe the show’s current scripts contain any direct references to the neighborhood so far, but there are future plans to feature it more prominently in the comedy.

But there are scenes that demonstrate it’s a Queens show — Eric’s hardcore devotion to the Mets and a bonding moment between the group in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“Hopefully we will get the chance to tell the world about Queens,” Weithorn said.

“Weird Loners” premieres on Fox Tuesday, March 31, at 9:30 p.m.

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Fox’s ‘Gotham’ to film in Ridgewood Wednesday night


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co./Jessica Miglio/FOX

Ridgewood will become part of Gotham City Wednesday night.

Crews from the hit Fox drama “Gotham” are scheduled to shoot an exterior scene along Palmetto Street between Cypress and Seneca avenues from about 5 p.m. Wednesday until 1 a.m. the next morning.

Parking will be restricted on the block and several nearby streets beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday in order to accommodate production vehicles.

According to the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, crews will dim street lights and use smoke and spark effects. Approximately 16 vehicles will also be brought in as part of the scenery.

“Gotham,” which debuted last fall on Fox, serves as a Batman prequel, depicting the rise of soon-to-be Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon prior to Batman’s arrival. It also presents the evolution of various villains such as Oswald Cobblepot (a.k.a. The Penguin).

The show stars Ben McKenzie as then-Detective Gordon; Donal Logue as Gordon’s partner, Det. Harvey Bullock; Robin Lord Taylor as Cobblepot; David Mazouz as young Bruce Wayne, the wealthy orphan who would become Batman; and Jada Pinkett Smith as nightclub owner and mobster Maria Mercedes (a.k.a. Fish) Mooney.

"No parking" notices were posted near Palmetto Street and Seneca Avenue in Ridgewood Tuesday in advance of scheduled filming for the Fox drama "Gotham." (Photo courtesy of Ridgewood Social)

“No parking” notices were posted near Palmetto Street and Seneca avenues in Ridgewood Tuesday in advance of scheduled filming for the Fox drama “Gotham.” (Photo courtesy of Ridgewood Social)

Parking restrictions will also be in effect on the following blocks:

Palmetto Street between Cypress and St. Nicholas avenues;

Gates Avenue (east side only) between Cypress and St. Nicholas avenues; and

Cypress Avenue (south side) between Grove and Madison streets and (north side) between Linden and Madison streets.

This is Ridgewood’s latest foray into Hollywood, as producers from various major television and film shows — such as NBC’s upcoming drama “Odyssey” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” —flocked to the neighborhood in recent months to shoot scenes.

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11-year-old Forest Hills boy vies for ‘MasterChef Junior’ title


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Greg Gayne / Courtesy of FOX Broadcasting Co.

Most 11-year-olds would settle for a store-bought cake for their birthday. Not Josh Reisner. The Forest Hills sixth-grader insisted on making 96 cupcakes for his party this year, with a variation for the cake, frosting and topping flavors on each one.

“It took three days to make, but it was really good,” Josh said of his cupcake masterpiece, which included flavors such as candied lemon and pistachio sauce.

It’s that sort of culinary know-how that has landed him a spot on season two of “MasterChef Junior.” On the Fox reality show, which kicked off its new season on Nov. 7, young chefs, ages 8 to 13, compete for $100,000 and the “MasterChef Junior” title. Like the adult version, the contestants must create gourmet-style dishes in timed challenges. Their creations are then critiqued by judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.

Winning dishes on the first episode included chicken liver pâté on garlic crostini with brûléed pears and fish sauce chicken wings with a yuzu salad.

After thousands from across the country auditioned, Reisner was one of 16 chosen for the show.

“When I got called for the show I was so excited,” he said. “It’s so exciting because you know that out of all those kids you are one of those 16.”

MCJR2_S2-Gallery_0277_hires2

Reisner, who was 10 when “MasterChef Junior” taped, has been refining his cooking skills since he was 4.

But his passion for food began when he was still a baby and would nibble on sushi, caviar, snails and oysters.

“He would just reach and take things from our plate and we would let him try whatever he wanted to try,” his father Brad said.

Starting out with cupcakes, pasta and pizza, Reisner soon graduated to cooking more difficult dishes, such as beef bourguignon and braised meat.

His father’s favorite is Reisner’s chili, which he makes with Coca-Cola, cocoa, a mix of special spices and no beans because it “ruins the texture.”

Though it takes time to whip up, Reisner, said he loves to make braised short ribs because “it‘s a dish that puts everything you put into it back.”

His mother Serena shares his interest in food, but admits she has let her son take over the kitchen in the past two years. He now cooks at least four days a week for the family, including breakfast on the weekend.

Reisner decided to test his culinary skill outside of his home kitchen after hearing about a casting call for “MasterChef Junior” through Young Chefs Academy in Forest Hills, where he has taken classes.

After making it onto the show, he watched the first season, but admits he was still nervous about judge Ramsay’s fiery reputation from his other reality shows.

MCJR2_201-MBox_0328_hires2

His fears about Ramsay were dispelled, but the experience of cooking for the judges was intimidating at times.

“I hope I don’t go home because I mean that would just ruin my thoughts of Key lime pie and I would not feel comforted when I eat it,”  he said during the second episode, when he landed in the bottom four during a citrus cream pie challenge.

Reisner, who wants to own a restaurant, and be a chef and food critic when he grows up, said he gained confidence from being on the show, and has learned how to accept criticism and take more chances.

“It’s so much pressure, but it’s really a great experience,” he said. “I would have done it a million more times.”

Watch Reisner on the fourth episode of “MasterChef Junior” on Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 8 p.m. on Fox to see if he makes it past the top eight.

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LIC comedy club founder hosting new Fox stand-up show


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Adam Teixeira

A Queens native and founder of a Long Island City comedy club is bringing his years of experience producing laughs to a new show on Fox next month.

Steve Hofstetter, 34, who is in the process of selling the Laughing Devil Comedy Club on Vernon Boulevard to concentrate on his TV endeavor, is the host and executive producer of “Laughs,” a highlight reel show for stand-up comics.

Hofstetter started doing stand-up comedy at 13 years old to impress a girl. Though he failed to get the girl, he found a life-long passion for humor.

After college, he started performing in and producing stand-up shows, eventually making a full-time career out of comedy.

In late 2011, he opened the Laughing Devil Comedy Club when he realized there were no comedy clubs in Queens.

“Why not support the community that you actually live in,” the former Long Island City resident said.

A writing opportunity led him to move to L.A. about a year and half ago, and he and the Laughing Devil’s co-owner decided to put their business up for sale last summer. But Hofstetter ultimately decided to buy out his partner.

With “Laughs” set to premiere for a 13-week test run on August 2, he is now finalizing the club’s sale to the team behind The Stand, a Manhattan comedy club, which has been running Laughing Devil for the past couple of months, he said.

“I can’t imagine a bigger opportunity,” Hofstetter said about the show. “It’s one of those things where you think you’ve made it but you aren’t sure yet.”

Each week, “Laughs” will feature stand-up comics from around the country, compiled from clips sent to the show and showcases set up by comedy clubs. As host, Hofstetter introduces the clips to a live audience at The Laughing Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, one of three comedy clubs of which he is a managing partner, and provides humorous commentary. Each clip will include the comic’s Twitter handle and where to see the person live.

“This is going to be catch-your-breath funny,” Hofstetter said. “We are really going to introduce the world to some great comics.”

To mark the show’s debut, there will be a red-carpet premiere party at the Laugh Factory in L.A.
Hofstetter remembers growing up in Briarwood and watching “Comic Strip Live” on Fox, which was taped live from the Laugh Factory.

“It’s a wonderful way to go full circle,” he said.

“Laughs” will premiere on Saturday, August 2, in select cities, including in New York at midnight on Fox, and Sunday, August 3, on My9 at 11 p.m.

 

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New Fox comedy to feature 30-somethings living in Queens


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of 2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. / Michael Becker/FOX

A new Fox show, called “Weird Loners,” will use Queens as its backdrop.

The single-camera comedy, scheduled for 2015, focuses on “four single 30-something underdogs who are unexpectedly thrust into one another’s lives and form an unlikely bond in a Queens townhouse.” The show, which is still early in production, places the home in Ridgewood.

Nate Torrence and Zachary Knighton. (©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

From writer Michael J. Weithorn (“The King of Queens”) and director Jake Kasdan (“New Girl”), the show stars Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”), Zachary Knighton (“Happy Endings”), Nate Torrence (“Hello Ladies”) and newcomer Meera Khumbhani.

Newton plays Caryn Goldfarb: “A cute, but high-strung dental hygienist whose romantic life, unfortunately, is dictated by the love-crazed, ultra-romantic 13-year-old barricaded inside the control room of her brain. Each time a handsome new man crosses her field of vision, infatuation and extreme over-eagerness take over, and she inevitably winds up back at square one – single and not getting any younger.”

Becki Newton and Zachary Knighton. (©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

Knighton plays Stosh Lewandoski: Described as “handsome, charming and whip-smart,” he’s a “serial seducer who has never been able to maintain an intimate relationship with a woman for very long – a couple of hours, usually. When Stosh’s shenanigans result in him losing his corporate condo, he winds up moving in with his cousin Eric.”

Torrence plays Eric Lewandoski: “A sweet, odd man-child, whose “adult life has consisted of living at home with elderly parents and working as a toll collector on the Queensboro Bridge. After both of his parents pass away, he finds himself cast adrift in the world for the first time.”

Meera Khumbhani and Nate Torrence. (© 2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Becker/FOX)

Meera Khumbhani plays Zara Sandhu: “Drop-dead gorgeous, mysterious and ethereal, Zara is a lifelong heartbreaker who’s only capable of living one way – ‘in the moment.’  Men and women fall in love with her on a regular basis, and she often reciprocates their feelings with great passion, until… she doesn’t.”

 

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Reality show ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ coming to Bayside eatery


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeff Neira/FOX

It might be a nightmare for Gordon Ramsay, but it’s a dream come true for one Queens restaurant and diners in the borough.

“Kitchen Nightmares,” a hit reality television show on Fox, is kicking off its sixth season with its first production shoot at Kati Allo in Bayside.

Internationally renowned chef Ramsay and his team will film in the Greek eatery at 29-06 172nd Street July 13-16.

Producers are looking for diners over 18 years old to sit in while the show is recording.

Those interested should email knqueensrest@gmail.com. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applicants will be asked to complete a thorough survey detailing how frequent they dine at Greek or Mediterranean restaurants in Queens and what style restaurant and qualities they look for in an eatery.

In “Kitchen Nightmares,” a no-nonsense Ramsay, who is prone to foul language, has one week to revive failing restaurants.

Kati Allo, which means “something else” in Greek, has been owned by husband and wife Emmanuel and Christine Zavolas for 14 years. They said they could not comment before the episode airs.

A spokesperson for the show said a date has not been set for the broadcast.

Donald Gardner, a local who patronizes the restaurant twice a week, said the ambiance and service could improve. He added that the young wait staff is somewhat error-prone, while “delivery guys hang out in the front all the time.”

“I’ve never seen it crowded in there at all,” he said. “But this area isn’t the bevy of hot restaurants.”

This is Ramsay’s second visit to Queens with the show and his fifth in New York City, officials said.

PJ’s Steakhouse in Forest Hills appeared on “Kitchen Nightmares” in February 2011, but the restaurant ultimately closed down.

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

 

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Queens’ own Creighton Fraker and Heejun Han perform on American Idol’s semifinals


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Fox

American Idol went live Tuesday night for the first time this season as Queens’ own Creighton Fraker and Heejun Han sang for their Idol lives in the show’s semifinals.

Thirteen men took the stage on the popular singing competition, but only five will continue onto next week’s show.

Fraker belted Queens native Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” to praise from each of the celebrity judges.

“That was so beautiful,” Jennifer Lopez said. “With a voice like that I do not want you to go home.”

Steven Tyler agreed calling the Idol hopeful’s performance “stupendous.”

The judges questioned Han’s choice of Robbie Williams’ “Angels,” saying the song did not allow the Queens crooner to fully display his voice.

“I’m not sure if that song showed off all of how beautiful your voice is,” said Lopez, who also called his sound silky smooth.

While Randy Jackson agreed that the song didn’t show everything the “mad talented” Han can do vocally, he added, “I am so happy we found Heejun.”

Viewer votes will choose the five men and five women that advance to the shows finals which begin next week. The women take the stage on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on Fox 5. The show’s 13 finalists — the judges will each select one wild card contestant — will be announced Thursday night at 8 p.m. on Fox 5.

Two Queens contestants make it to American Idol’s top 24


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Fox

Hundreds of thousands of “American Idol” hopefuls were narrowed down to 24 over the past month, with two Queens crooners making the cut.

Heejun Han, of Flushing, and Astoria’s Creighton Fraker both withstood the auditions, Hollywood and a trip to Las Vegas to make it to the shows semifinals round, and now have the opportunity to sing live in front of America, hopefully earning the viewers’ votes.

Fraker grew up as a preacher’s kid in South Dakota, finding his voice in church choirs and local boys’ singing groups. He took private lessons throughout the years and eventually joined a touring choir, serenading audiences across the nation.

The 28 year old moved to Astoria eight years ago.

For his turn in front of the judges, Fraker belted out Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” as well as an untitled original piece.

“[The judges] had only good things to say. They were shocked at how unique I was,” Fraker told The Courier.

READ CREIGHTON FRAKER’S INTERVIEW WITH THE QUEENS COURIER

Han, 22, originally from Korea, shocked the judging triumvirate with his audition performance of “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” by Michael Bolton.

“You have a beautiful tone,” Jennifer Lopez told Han, who said he loves singing Soul and R&B.

Han’s Facebook fan page already has nearly 8,000 likes.

In their final performances before the judges, both Fraker and Han paid homage to their hometown singing Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”

The semifinalists will be sliced in half during next week’s round. The men will perform Tuesday night with the women singing for the “Idol” lives on Wednesday. Viewer votes will determine the 12 finalists who will compete to become the 11th American Idol on Thursday.  Each show airs on Fox 5 at 8 p.m.

Additional reporting by Alexa Altman

 

Creighton Fraker makes Queens proud on ‘American Idol’


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Fox’s American Idol

People should get used to pronouncing Creighton Fraker. It’s going to be a household name.

An Astoria resident for the past eight years, Fraker grabbed the ultimate brass ring for a star on the rise — a coveted golden ticket on Fox’s “American Idol.”

Fraker grew up as a preacher’s kid in South Dakota, finding his voice in church choirs and local boys’ singing groups. He took private lessons throughout the years and eventually joined a touring choir, serenading audiences across the nation.

He always knew he wanted to sing.

Eight-and-a-half years ago, Fraker moved east to the Big Apple.

In New York and out of work, he took to the streets, performing for crowds in public parks and on sidewalks. He waited tables and poured cocktails, anything to make ends meet.

Fraker’s 28th birthday this year marked his last chance to win a spot on “American Idol,” since the show enforces an age cut-off for contestants.

It was an opportunity Fraker seized.

He and two friends drove from New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the “American Idol” audition, each with dreams of stardom. The trio camped overnight on the sidewalk outside the stadium where auditions were held, along with thousands of other hopeful contestants.

For his turn in front of the judges, Fraker belted out Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” as well as an untitled original piece.

“[The judges] had only good things to say,” said Fraker. “They were shocked at how unique I was.”

Influenced heavily by Michael Jackson, Fraker also admitted to the impression “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler has had on his sound.

“[Steven Tyler] has always been a big idol of mine,” said Fraker. “It’s more than insane to hear him commenting on my music.”

Of the three hopefuls that traveled together, Fraker was the only one to make it to Hollywood.

With the golden ticket clutched in his hand, Fraker dialed his mother. He wanted her to be the first to hear the news.

“I was elated,” he said. “I was so excited to find out that I hadn’t been waiting around in line for nothing.”

With the first “Hollywood Week” behind him, Fraker looks forward to his future on “American Idol” and the musical ventures to follow.

“I was struggling to find a way to pay my rent before now,” said Fraker. “Now, there’s a hope of becoming a household name. It’s completely [turned] my whole world [around].”

“American Idol” airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox 5.

Queens Parents Outraged Over Daughter’s Gun Spelling Assignment


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens Parents Outraged Over Daughter’s Gun Spelling Assignment

Many parents are concerned about gun violence, so Lawrence Gillman almost hit the ceiling when his 5-year-old pulled out a surprising homework sheet. “I looked at it and I seen the word ‘gun’ on it. The first thing I thought was ‘oh no no no,’ I don’t want you reading it, I don’t want you spelling it. I don’t even want you looking at the picture,” said Gillman. His daughter goes to P.S. 201 in Queens and is learning sounds and letters, but Gillman says teaching words like “gun” and showing a cartoon image of one is out of touch. Read More: NY1

 

House Approves Bill Seeking Construction Of Gas Pipeline Through Brooklyn And Queens

A bill approving the construction of a three-mile gas pipeline through Brooklyn and Queens quietly sailed through the House of Representatives Tuesday night. On the floor, bill sponsor Congressman Michael Grimm talked up the project’s economic benefits. “The Gateway Pipeline project will generate approximately $265 million in construction activity. That’s almost 300 local jobs,” said Grimm. It’s a part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2007 PlaNYC initiative, which he says is about building a stable clean-energy future for the city. Read More: NY1

 

Kelly accuser’s memory of ‘rape’ but not of sex killed her case: sources

She insisted she was raped – she just couldn’t remember actually having sex. Maria Di Toro, the woman who accused Greg Kelly of raping her in a Financial District law office, admitted she had no memory of the alleged attack — making it impossible for investigators to pursue a case against the Fox 5 TV anchor, sources said yesterday. “Not remembering is not tantamount to being raped,” one source said a day after prosecutors announced they’re dropping their probe of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s youngest son. Read More: New York Post

 

Rally to keep Key Food in Flushing

Some Flushing residents have one thing to say to a local landlord: keep our Key Food. At a rally on Wednesday, February 8, they joined elected officials, including Senator Toby Stavisky, Councilmember James Gennaro and Assemblymembers Michael Simanowitz and Rory Lancman, along with Key Food owner David Mandell to protest plans of replacing the supermarket with a CVS pharmacy. Read More: Queens Courier

 

‘Good Day’ co-anchor Greg Kelly to return to Channel 5 Friday morning 

FOX 5 anchorman Greg Kelly will return to “Good Day New York” on Friday – days after being cleared of rape allegations. The decision was made at a 4 p.m. meeting between Kelly and station brass Wednesday, sources told the Daily News. As he left the station, Kelly confirmed his return to work. “I’m very appreciative of all the positive support I’ve received,” he said after walking out the front door. Kelly looked relieved. Read More: Daily News