Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 1:43 pm by Diana Nollen Life
Sarah Lacina, Cedar Rapids police officer (CBS photo)
By Diana Nollen, The Gazette
Cedar Rapids police officer Sarah Lacina, 29, is one of the big guns on the Brawn Tribe for the upcoming season of “Survivor: Cagayan.”
The popular television test of strategy and stamina will premiere with a two-hour episode at 7 p.m. Iowa time Feb. 26 on CBS.
This 28th season is shaking things up a bit, dividing 18 contestants into three tribes: Beauty, Brains and Brawn. Joining Lacina on the Brawn Tribe, officially known as Aparri, are former NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson, 46, of Newark, N.J.; hairstylist Lindsey Ogle, 29, of Kokomo, Ind.; police officer Tony Vlachos, 39, of Jersey City, N.J.; Pilates instructor Trish Hegarty, 48, of Needham, Mass.; and martial arts instructor Yung “Woo” Hwang of Newport Beach, Calif.
Not surprisingly, the Beauty Tribe (Salona) sports a former Miss Kentucky Teen USA, a former NFL cheerleader and a male model. The Brains Tribe (Luzon) includes David Samson, president of the Miami Marlins, a nuclear engineer, a lawyer, a pro poker player, an accountant (and former NFL cheerleader) and a student from Chicago.
The episodes were filmed in July and August in the Philippines, the same South Pacific island nation where sex therapist Denise Stapley of Cedar Rapids won the million dollar prize in 2012.
On her cast bio, Lacina lists her hobbies as boating, working out, golfing and mixed martial arts. She describes herself as “witty, competitive and athletic,” and says she’s both brains and brawn, “a master manipulator” who brings her Midwest work ethic to the competition.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm by Diana Nollen Life
Matt Volk of Cedar Rapids (Jeopardy Productions photo)
By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia
Financial analyst Matt Volk of Cedar Rapids will have to be content with counting his $36,400, after the “Jeopardy!” two-day champ was defeated in Tuesday’s episode (9/24/13).
The Double Jeopardy round went neck-and-neck with all three contestants, with just $2,000 separating first- and third-place going into Final Jeopardy. Volk was in the middle, with $12,800.
The clue was one of the easiest ones ever in the final round. Category: Newspapers. Clue: “On July 23, 2013, this best-selling tabloid re-spelled its name on its masthead to honor big British news.” All three contestants answered correctly with The Sun, which had changed its spelling to “Son” in honor of Prince George’s birth.
Volk wagered $12,200 to end up with $25,000. But writer Neal Pollack of Austin, Texas, nudged him with $26,000. Volk received $2,000 for his second-place finish, bringing his three-day total to $36,400.
The popular game show airs at 4 p.m. on KWWL-Channel 7.
Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm by Diana Nollen Life
"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek (left), stands next to contestant Matt Volk, a financial analyst from Cedar Rapids. (Jeopardy Productions photo)
By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia
Matt Volk of Cedar Rapids won Monday’s episode of “Jeopardy!” but the going wasn’t as easy as last Friday, when he handily unseated Jared Hall of Boston, who left the game show with $182,000 in earnings.
The lead traded hands throughout the half-hour Monday (9/23/13), but Volk prevailed in Final Jeopardy, when his opponents missed this Classic Films clue: “The first scene of this movie was shot on the first day of filming, Oct. 2, 1960, at 5 a.m. at 727 Fifth Ave. at 57th Street in New York City.” Volk’s opponents answered “West Side Story,” but Volk wrote down the correct title, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
He went into the final round in second place, with $4,400 and emerged victorious with $10,400. That brings his two-day total to $25,800.
The financial analyst will defend his title Tuesday. “Jeopardy!” airs at 4 p.m. on KWWL-Channel 7.
C.R. man unseats ‘Jeopardy!’ champion
Matt Volk, a financial analyst from Cedar Rapids, snatched the “Jeopardy!” championship away from longtime winner Jared Hall of Boston on Friday (9/20), who went home with $182,000.
Volk dominated the episode, cleaning up on the Double Jeopardy categories “How’d They Make Their Money” and “San Antonio.” All three contestants missed the Final Jeopardy question regarding French Geography: “Eight countries border mainland France. Its smallest border, at 2.7 miles, is with this country.” No one answered “Monaco,” but Volk still won, racking up $15,400.
Host Alex Trebek could use a geography lesson of his own. During the contestant introductions, he said Volk was from “a small town in Iowa.” It’s no big surprise that one of the Cedar Rapids native’s first correct answers dealt with FEMA.
Watch Volk defend his title at 4 p.m. Monday on KWWL-Channel 7 in the Corridor.
Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm by Diana Nollen Life
Alisabeth Von Presley, "American Idol" contestant from Cedar Rapids. (americanidol.com photo)
By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia
Cedar Rapids singer Alisabeth Von Presley, a powerhouse on the local theater and music scene, has come to the end of her “American Idol” Season 12 journey.
She made it to Hollywood Week, but was cut by producers, so she was not among the singers who performed in the a cappella and group rounds that aired last night (2/13/13) on the Fox channel.
This morning on her Facebook page, she said: “I got to perform for the judges twice! ) just cut in the end by the producer.”
During the show, while lots of her hometown friends were scanning the faces to find hers, she posted: “Hey y’all – I had a crazy Hollywood Week experience on American Idol!! BUT you probably won’t see me on TV because I wasn’t cut by the judges I was cut by the producer. Bummer! But other great opportunities have come from this!!!!!”
Marion contestant Gabe Brown saw his journey end in Hollywood, as well.
Both attracted the talent scouts’ eyes and ears during 2012 auditions in Iowa City and Chicago.
This won’t be the last time we see these two singers in the spotlight. Nobody loses on “American Idol,” right Jennifer Hudson?
Friday, February 8, 2013 at 9:24 am by Diana Nollen Life
Congratulations to Joan — a wonderful photographer!
From a press release:
The Minneapolis Institute of Art recently purchased three of the photographs of women taken in the 1960s by Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret of Iowa City.
The three are silver prints of “Women’s Club Bowling,” “Bridesmaids” and “Grandmothers and Wedding Guests,” all taken in Cedar Rapids.
“Joan’s photographs offer a rare glimpse into the important civic activities of women during a historical period — all too recent — when their contributions to society were overlooked, if not invisible,” said David Little, curator of photography for the Minneapolis Institute of Art. “Joan captures the hidden labor and pleasure of women with a loving humor that just makes viewers smile.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has two of Bourret’s photographs in its collection: “Nan Wood Graham” and “The Junior League Christmas Party.”
The photographs in both museum collections were taken in Cedar Rapids except for the one of Graham, which was taken in her home in Riverside, Calif.
Ten of Bourret’s photographs are in the exhibition, “The Restless Spirit: American Art from the Collection,” opening Feb. 16, 2013, at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The museum has 261 of Bourret’s photographs in its collection, according to curator Sean Ulmer.
Many of Joan’s women photographs are in her autobiography, “Pictures and People: A Search for Visual Truth and Social Justice,” which won first place in the Benjamin Franklin Contest of the Independent Publishers of America last June.
Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:45 am by Diana Nollen Life
"American Idol" contest Alisabeth Von Presley stars as Maureen in the Theatre Cedar Rapids 2010 production of "Rent." (Rob Merritt photo)
Two Eastern Iowans have won a golden ticket to the Hollywood rounds of “American Idol” season 12.
Gabe Brown of Marion and Alisabeth Von Presley of Cedar Rapids wowed the celebrity judges in Chicago, after catching producers’ eyes and ears last August during “Idol’s” Small Town Bus Tour stop in Iowa City.
Both were invited to the Adler Planetarium to join hundreds of other hopefuls auditioning for celebrity judges Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.
The hit Fox television talent show has launched superstar careers for past winners and finalists Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry. Competition is open to singers ages 15 to 28.
Brown and Von Presley are among 46 Windy City auditioners who advanced to the Hollywood rounds, which will air later this winter.
Viewers got to see Brown’s wild Chicago audition Thursday night, but not Von Presley’s. Both are well-known in local circles. Brown is lead singer for the power rock band, Helforsout, which has been making the scene since August 2011. Von Presley is a regular on the Theatre Cedar Rapids stage, belting out an unforgettable star turn as Maureen in “Rent” in 2010, among other leading roles.
Brown’s band covers everything from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin to Foo Fighters and Soundgarden, so it’s no wonder he blew the judges away with a full-out a cappella rock blast of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” Urban shouted out, “I love it. You’re deafening at that volume.”
Carey wanted to hear something “a little more mellow,” so Brown then launched into “We All Die Young,” but couldn’t resist cranking up the rock power with that one, too. Minaj declared, “I like you Curly,” referring to Brown’s untamed hair. Jackson said he liked it, too, especially since they hadn’t heard a real rocker up to that point.
“When you’re doing your rock thing, I believe you,” Minaj added.
“Guys who have big, massive belting voices have big hearts, too,” Urban said, right before the panel gave Brown a resounding round of yes votes.
Brown then ran screaming through the Planetarium auditorium, waving his golden ticket.
True to her theatrical roots, Von Presley sang “I See a River” from the musical “Urinetown,” along with Otis Redding’s R&B classic, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.” Let’s hope America gets to hear her sing in the Hollywood rounds.
“American Idol” airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays on the Fox channel.
Here are Brown’s and Von Presley’s “going to Hollywood” tapes:
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 9:16 am by Diana Nollen Life
Diana’s note:I love our area film festivals, and this one is terrific for showcasing the Iowa connection. I always see something I love onscreen and thoroughly enjoy the lobby meet-and-greets. Last year’s little gems included “The Wedge,” about a pizza delivery guy caught in the middle of a casino heist, and “Collapse,” my new favorite zombie flick. Here’s the scoop on the 2013 call for entries, from the festival organizers’ media release:
Zombies roam the world, wreaking havoc for a small-town Iowa farmer trying to protect and provide for his family in "Collapse." The big-budget feature film was shot in West Branch in October 2009 and made its big-screen debut in the 2012 Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival at Collins Road Theatres. (Storybench photo)
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Independent Filmmakers are proud to host the 13th annual Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival on Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6, at the Collins Road Theatres in Marion, Iowa.
But before we can have a festival we need some films to screen.
*Submission Deadline is Feb. 8, 2013, but entry fees are discounted if we receive your film by Jan. 25.*
We accept films of all genres and types: narrative, documentary, animation, music video, etc. from all kinds of filmmakers (students, amateurs, part-time professionals and full-time professionals). There is no date-of-completion requirement; however, films submitted to previous Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festivals will not be eligible.
The Iowa Connection
This is what makes The Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival unique.
Any film you enter must have a connection of some kind to the Hawkeye State. It can have a story set in Iowa or about Iowans. It can be produced (in whole or in part) in Iowa. It can have a key actor or crew member who has some connection to the state, whether that connection is through birth, residence, work or educational experience. Whatever else your film is about, Iowa must, in some way, be a part of its story.
About the Festival
The festival provides a unique opportunity for Iowa-connected films and filmmakers. After our panel of independent judges has culled its official selections from among all the submitted films, we will screen all the selected films in front of an open invitation audience. All official selections will be in the running for the coveted Eddy Awards as well as other valuable prizes. Filmmakers will also have the chance to view their fellow entrants’ films and to network with their peers.
Filmmakers will also have the option of introducing their films to the audience prior to the screening, either in person or via a written statement to read by festival emcees.
All filmmakers who submit their films for consideration will receive one:
(1) Full Event Pass and one (1) commemorative 2013 Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival T-shirt (with official selections and credits printed on the back) for each film they enter. The Full Event Pass entitles each filmmaker to free admittance for every screening of every film throughout the two-day Festival.
All entrants will also have the opportunity to attend a critique session with the panel of judges in the days following the festival. This critique session will give each filmmaker a chance to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their films with the judges as well as consider possibilities for any future projects.
Denise Stapley of Cedar Rapids is still trying to wrap her head around her million-dollar win on last night’s “Survivor: Philippines” 25th season finale.
We chatted by phone this afternoon (12/17/12) from Los Angeles, where she’s faced a whirlwind of red carpets, interviews and photos since her win was announced lived on CBS television. Her husband, Brad, and daughter, Sydney, 9, were in the second row to share in the anticipation and joy.
Entertainment Weekly caught up with Malcolm Freberg, the 25-year-old bartender who struck up an alliance on Day 1 of the 39-day odyssey. He was pretty hard on Denise at the final Tribal Council back in April, which aired on last night’s finale.
EW: “Why lay into Denise like that at the final Tribal about the head nodding and appeasing?”
MALCOLM: “I didn’t go into that ever not voting for Denise. I was pissed off, but I didn’t hold it against her. I understand that it’s the right move to get rid of me at that point and I was turning on her first so there’s no way I could be mad at her. But it was very clear to all of us that Denise was going to win. But I wasn’t going to let her off the hook. She was brilliant at deflecting hard questions with very politically correct answers so I was trying to get her to say something nasty at that point and just get under her skin a little bit. And it came off a lot meaner than I wanted it to. But there was absolutely no way I was never not voting for Denise and I think she absolutely played brilliantly and absolutely earned it.”
Denise told me she was surprised when Jonathan Penner called her a bitch on national television during that Tribal Council, adding that neither he nor Malcolm apologized for their harsh words.
“That was a little rough — I was not expecting it — but at the same time, that final Tribal is where they’re really pushing buttons. I think that was stemming off of a lot of interactions with Abi. The jury’s trying to light a fire, and he did. He and Malcolm did a good job of lighting that fire under me.”
We’re thrilled her torch wasn’t extinguished.
I’ll reveal much more of our conversation Thursday in Hoopla and on HooplaNow.com
Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 10:43 am by Diana Nollen Life
Denise Stapley of Cedar Rapids (CBS-TV photo)
By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia
I’ve been following Cedar Rapidian Denise Stapley’s quest for the “Survivor” million-dollar payoff since before the first Season 25 episode aired Sept. 19, 2012.
She has played with class, grace, strength and intelligence every step of the way, except perhaps for last night’s Abi rant. I’m sure the rest of us would have ranted long ago — if we’d even lasted 10 minutes in a Philippines paradise rife with sharks, snakes and megabugs.
I’ll be following the season finale and cast reunion, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, on CBS.
I’d love to include your opinions in my report. What do you think of the way Denise played so far? Join in the conversation. Please include your name, age and city of residence.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm by Diana Nollen Life
Denise Stapley of Cedar Rapids
By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia
She’s outlasted 14 other castaways, and now it’s down to the season wrap-up.
Denise Stapley, 41, a mental health counselor and certified sex therapist from Cedar Rapids, has made it to the final rounds of “Survivor: Philippines.” The finale for the 25th season of the popular television reality game show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (12/16/12) on CBS.
She’s such a strong player that at times it looked like the tables were turning on her in tonight’s 12/12/12 episode, but the numbers aligned in her favor, and the unpopular Abi-Maria Gomes, 32, a business student from Los Angeles, got booted off the island 4 to 1 and into the jury box for the grand finale.
So the Final Four now stands at Denise; Lisa Whelchel, 49, a former TV teen actress from Dallas, Texas; Malcolm Freberg, 25, a bartender from Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Denise’s ally from the beginning; and Michael Skupin, 50, a professional speaker, author and coach from White Lake, Mich., who was airlifted out of the show’s second season, “Survivor: The Australian Outback,” after falling into a fire and suffering severe burns.
Denise and Malcolm are original Matsing Tribe members, while Skupin and Lisa are original Tandangs. No one from Kalabaw made it that far.
The 12/12/12 episode began in a most unusual manner, with Abi actually sounding sincere and humbled that she survived the Night 33 Tribal Council in which nice-guy Carter Williams, 24, a track coach from Shawnee, Kan., was voted off the island.
Abi said she was “over the moon,” but to everyone else, that comment was cheese.
Day 34 dawned with Abi declaring she was off to get water. Her antics took their toll, and the others jumped at the chance to mock her behind her back. Good-girl Lisa, however, told the camera she wanted to vote off Denise, who was a bigger threat in the million-dollar quest, but she admitted it might be wiser in the long run to kick Abi out of the game.
That afternoon, everyone gathered on the beach for a Reward Challenge ring toss, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Nothing ever is on this survival of the physically and emotionally fittest competition. Denise did well, scampering up and over a steep ramp and running into the ocean to untie bags of rings to then toss at six pegs.
Alas, Skupin prevailed, winning the chance to hop onto a helicopter then onto a boat for a pizza and pop feast, then into the ocean to snorkel with a whale shark. As a bonus, he was allowed to take two others for the afternoon jaunt. he quickly chose Malcolm and Lisa, and they spent most of the boat ride scheming their next moves and cementing their alliance.
Meanwhile, Denise was stuck for the afternoon with everyone’s least favorite castaway. Abi wasn’t thrilled either.
“I was crushed when I wasn’t chosen for the reward,” Abi whined. “To make matters worse, I have to go home with Denise. She’s a horrible person.”
Denise vowed “to make nice” with Abi. “It’s like being on a date with the kid who pulled your hair in first grade. I’m just going to try to get through the afternoon.” A bit later, she gave the most comical quote of the 25th season: “I want to hang myself, gouge my eyes out and stick needles in my eardrums. Then I’d be good for the afternoon.”
Perhaps karma bit her for those biting, yet hilarious, words. On Day 36, the dawn of a crucial Immunity Challenge day in the 39-day odyssey, Denise woke up with two bite marks on her neck and a horrible stinging sensation. Clearly in agony and reduced to tears, it looked like her journey might end just inches away from the final payoff.
But, survivor that she is, she shook it off and made her usual scrappy showing in the puzzle challenge, where the castaways had to create and navigate a rope bridge, gather puzzle pieces along the way, then assembly them in the right sequence to create a maze that a ball could navigate to land in a hole.
Malcolm fell off his bridge and into last place, then stunned everyone by winning. So he not only was safe from that evening’s elimination vote, he also still had a Hidden Immunity Idol that he could bestow onto another player. He chose, instead, to take it home as a souvenir.
That meant the other four were fair game for the vote. Each made their plea, with Abi ditching her lie about having another immunity idol. Despite her valiant effort to convince them to keep her in the game, she got the boot.
The surviving four cheered and danced their way back to camp and into the series finale.
Earlier Wednesday, all five appeared on host Jeff Probst’s afternoon talk show. They flew out to Los Angeles several days ago to tape the segment, which marked the first time the “Survivor” producers had allowed any contestants to talk before the series finale.
(I scored an interview with Denise before the season began airing in September, but the telephone interview was monitored by a CBS representative. I would assume the others got to talk to their hometown media, too, before the competition played out on TV.)
Probst asked about their chances and strategies, one by one, then in a group, and fielded questions from the studio audience.
Jeff asked Abi point-blank if her unpopularity was truly due to a “cultural disconnect” — she’s Brazilian — or was she “just entitled and kinda bitchy.”
“I’m hoping to be dragged to the end, to put together a big case to win,” she replied. She said the hardest part of the game was the emotional aspect of being unliked, calling it “a horrible feeling.”
“I’m a crazy Brazilian with great intentions,” she declared.
Probst lauded Denise for her physical dominance, calling it “impressive for a small woman.” He also noted that could work against her in the final voting, if the others see her as a threat. He then asked her if her strategy would be to downplay that.
“I can’t stop being who I am,” she replied.
And we wouldn’t want her to.
See the finale and season 25 reunion beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, on CBS.