Clark: August a month of risky business at the Gallo Center

08/22/2013 12:23 PM

08/22/2013 12:24 PM

Sometimes you have to take a few risks in life.

And so it was for Gallo Center for the Arts Chief Executive Officer Lynn Dickerson as she booked shows for 2013-14.

Although August traditionally has been a between-seasons, mostly dark period for the center, Dickerson included a handful of events for this month. And while the center’s official season kick-off show featuring Johnny Mathis won’t happen until Sept. 21, several more shows are slated before that date.

Because so many big-draw artists were available to the Modesto theater only in August, Dickerson decided it was worth the risk of opening the doors early to accommodate them. So performers like Dave Koz, Chris Isaak, George Thorogood and Billy Currington have made their ways to the Gallo stage the past few weeks.

As risks go, it was a good one.

Doug Hosner, director of marketing and public relations at the Gallo Center, reported earlier this week that all of the August shows have exceeded their sales projections.

Currington, Issak and Koz played to full houses, as did a capella sensation Straight No Chaser, a group that Dickerson booked again based on popular demand after a sold-out holiday show late last year.

Hosner said George Thorogood, scheduled to play Thursday night (too late to confirm results by press time) was expected to fill “north of 80 percent” of the 1,250 seats in the Mary Stuart Rogers Theater.

Also performing in August was Los Lonely Boys. Members of that group rescheduled their date from a cancellation last season. That show filled 85 percent of the house, he said.

“It’s been a remarkable ‘preseason,’ and we still have Valley’s Got Talent to go,” Hosner said in an email.

Valley’s Got Talent always is a big draw, too. The homespun talent competition has attracted plenty of contestants and plenty of ticket holders each year. Returning to judge will be husband and wife Robert and Kim Ulrich, natives of Modesto and Ripon, respectively. Robert Ulrich is an Emmy-winning casting directer; Kim Ulrich an actress who has appeared in several TV shows. Read more about Valley’s Got Talent, set for Aug. 30-31, on page E10.

Hosner had more good news for the Gallo Center: The Dec. 4 Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Show already has sold out. Don’t fret if you wanted to see the group but didn’t act fast enough to get your tickets. Because of the high demand, a rare weekday matinee performance was added this week. See www.galloarts.org for more on these shows and other events planned this season at the Gallo Center.

Olyphant appearance

“The Mindy Project” is one of those television shows that’s appealing despite itself. The sitcom, staring Mindy Kaling (an alum of NBC’s “The Office”) has quirky appeal, but a shaky reality factor. Kaling’s character, Mindy Lahiri, is a gynocologist in New York City with a couple of TV-handsome partners in a small practice. She’s hopelessly unlucky when it comes to love, which certainly is plausible. It’s just some of the kooky things that she gets herself into that make you think “oh, come on...seriously?”

But Kaling is so adorable that she saves the show. And, of course, there wouldn’t really be much of a show if Mindy didn’t get herself into all sorts of silly mayhem.

Even if I already wasn’t a regular viewer of “The Mindy Project,” which returns for its second season starting Sept. 17 on the Fox network, I’d certainly be tuning in when Modesto-bred actor Timothy Olyphant has a guest-starring role.

Olyphant, whose critically acclaimed drama “Justified” is between seasons right now, will play Graham Logan, “a wild, professional skateboarder in his mid-40s who nearly runs Mindy over in Union Square before asking her out on a date,” according to a Los Angeles Times story.

A middle-aged skateboarder? Oh come on...seriously?

The Olyphant episode is set to run early in the season, according to the Times. Olyphant is just one of several high-profile guest stars for the upcoming season; others include James Franco, Chloe Sevigny, Bill Hader and Kris Humphries.

Olyphant also continues to make feature films. According to IMDB.com, he currently is filming “This Is Where I Leave You,” a comedy that reunites him with actress Rose Byrne. Olyphant played Byrne’s love interest over one season of the superb TV legal thriller/drama “Damages.”

No release date was listed on IMDB for the film, about a non-practicing Jewish family forced to observe their faith’s traditions after their father’s death. Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda also are listed in the cast.

Speaking of “Justified”...

Olyphant’s star-vehicle “Justified” would not exist at all without Elmore Leonard, the prolific author who wrote the short story – “Fire in the Hole” – that serves as the basis for the FX Network show. Leonard died on Tuesday at the age of 87.

The role of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, which Olyphant has owned since episode one of “Justified,” garnered the Beyer High grad his first Emmy nomination for best actor in 2011. Leonard wrote a new novel released in 2012 based on Givens – called, not surprisingly, “Raylan” – after the actor suggested he do so.

Many of Leonard’s novels and short stories have been turned into films, TV shows and TV movies.

“Justified” was renewed by FX in March for a fifth season, which is scheduled to air in 2014.

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