Marijke Rowland

Rowland: More television exposure for Modesto region

From left, director Spencer Ramsay, Monster Grill food vendor Tom Stroud, host of Carnival Eats Noah Cappe, and camera operator Curt Galindo-Orozco prepare to shoot more over-the-top food at the Stanislaus County Fair for a TV show.
From left, director Spencer Ramsay, Monster Grill food vendor Tom Stroud, host of Carnival Eats Noah Cappe, and camera operator Curt Galindo-Orozco prepare to shoot more over-the-top food at the Stanislaus County Fair for a TV show. The Modesto Bee

How we’ve been portrayed on TV is a frequent cause for consternation among the region’s residents.

Those of us who live here and in the surrounding area are tired of being called dusty and depressed and “Dude, what’s that smell?” Already, many people have expressed concern about the upcoming drama “American Crime,” which will be set in (but not filmed in) Modesto and debuts early next year on ABC.

But now, instead of letting fictional accounts shape our narrative, a string of reality show appearances has us showing ourselves off – for better or for worse.

Last month, the foothill town of Murphys got a shot at national TV fame thanks to an appearance on the Fox reality series “Hotel Hell.” In the show, British professional screamer Gordon Ramsay took the three immature owners of the historic Murphy’s Hotel to task for running it like a frat house. After some requisite screaming and shaming, the men were transformed through the magic of TV editing to operators of a more civilized and modern establishment where they all promised to stop giving lap dances.

While the region came across looking great – Murphys really is charming – I can’t say the same about the hotel owners. But they do say all publicity is good publicity, right?

This month, we’ll get another shot at deep-fried redemption with Turlock’s appearance on “Carnival Eats” on the Cooking Channel. Producers for the new series paid a visit to the Stanislaus County Fair in July to sample its over-the-top fare. The episode will air Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on the cable channel. It is also set to air on Food Network Canada and Great American Country networks.

Host Noah Cappe sampled lobster-topped French fries, deep-fried frog legs and doughnut ice-cream sandwiches, among other delicacies that should come with a side of Lipitor. Part of the show is also talking with the vendors who make the carnival concoctions and the brave gastronomic explorers who try them.

The Stanislaus County Fair will share screen time in the episode with the Texas Crab Fest. But we can only hope the community puts its best foot, or in this case dish, forward in its appearance.

Elsewhere around the Scene:

Speaking of national TV exposure, former Modesto musician Roem Baur was featured in an episode of the hit NBC show “The Voice” on Tuesday.

Baur, who now lives and performs out of San Francisco, won the 2005 Modesto Area Music Association Award for Best Unplugged Artist. He appeared on one of the blind-audition episodes in front of Season 7 judges Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani.

The 37-year-old married father of two spoke about his background in opera and transition to rock ’n’ roll. Since his time in Modesto, Baur has gone on to play at the South by Southwest Music Festival and toured extensively.

For his audition, he sang Roy Orbison’s classic “Pretty Woman.” None of the judges turned around for his performance, so he wasn’t selected to join any of their teams, but they did praise his voice. Most of the judges said it was his song choice that hurt him, because it drew too close a comparison to Orbison’s legendary voice.

Williams offered some encouragement, saying, “Next time around, sing something that will allow us to see you as a person.”

While Baur calls the Bay Area home now, he’ll return to Modesto to perform an all-ages concert Oct. 17 at Rivets American Grill, 2307 Oakdale Road. Music starts at 9:30 p.m. and the show is free.

  Comments