Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
In the era of hot-looking models reading the news on TV (remember now, it's sad face for tornado deaths, happy face for Shriners in parades, never the other way around), WFAA somehow manages to get enough pretty faces on camera and still maintain depth of field in the actual journalism department. Byron Harris, David Schechter and Brett Shipp continue to bring serious game to the newscast as investigative reporters. Jobin Panicker and Todd Unger do yeoman work as fire-chasers (but work on that closing squint and head-nod, Todd) and Teresa Woodard manages to be both hot-looking and downright credible as a street reporter. Pete Delkus always makes the weather sound like something you might even find faintly interesting in a place where it's just hot as hell all the time. For some reason they've decided to cast sportscaster icon Dale Hansen as the newscast clown, which is off the mark, since Hansen often brings the only biting grownup commentary on the show. As anchors, John McCaa and Gloria Campos are master and commander, with great backups in Jason Wheeler and Shelly Slater.
News Update is like every other news show on local, network and cable TV these days: lots of joking around and horseplay between stories to make us love them. The owners pay for focus groups, polls and consultants. Presumably they know what they're doing. We're not here to second-guess. It's when the cast gets a bit too mischievous, goes off script and begins to ad-lib the horseplay that things can drift precariously into inappropriate land or just-stupid land. Over all of this, the singular glower of news anchor John McCaa reigns like a Jovian thunderbolt: You can see him physically push back from the bench and blast the pranking weather and sports rascals with the look — a look that says, "Sober up, now." McCaa, a seasoned, serious journalist who often writes his own copy, knows a sad-face story from a happy-face without being prompted. His delivery is incisive and persuasive. He and his talented co-anchor Gloria Campos always treat each other with respect and dignity. Every good circus needs a ringmaster. McCaa is one of the best.
If Matt Purvis hadn't hurt his back playing high school football, Dallas' theater scene might never have met its newest hot leading man. Purvis, 24, grew up in Southlake, where he played ball and danced with a competitive all-guy hip-hop team. After his injury kept him off the baseball diamond too, he tried theater for the first time his senior year at Southlake Carroll High, nabbing a good part in Pajama Game. That got him hooked on acting, which he pursued with roles in Rent, Chicago and a dozen other shows at Grapevine's Ohlook Performing Arts Center, all while earning his marketing degree at UNT. Shortly after college graduation, Purvis was cast in dual leading roles in Theatre Too's production of the dirty puppet musical Avenue Q, which ran for a solid year. The week it closed, he got a lead in Theatre Arlington's musical Altar Boyz (running through October 6). "For me, theater used to be a release to get away from school or my job," Purvis says. "Doing Avenue Q for so long was a huge step. It validated my decision not to stop performing."
If you're a straight couple that includes an adventurous, open-minded lady and a guy with a functional cardiovascular system, make Saturdays at The Lodge part of your date-night rotation. Between 4 and 9 p.m., entry is free for couples (we're pretty sure this applies only to those that include a female — sorry, cheapskate dudes, no claiming to be a gay couple to weasel out of paying the cover). Even better, $25 gets dinner and dessert for two. And it's not just a buffet of chicken fingers — we're talking steak, seafood or pasta. Take advantage of happy hour prices before 9 p.m. and you'll save enough to buy her a lap dance like the good old-fashioned romantic gentleman you are.
The competition for this honor was surprisingly fierce this year. On the one hand, it's hard to top the shamelessness of Bikinis, which evicted a long-time Hill Country resident to make way for Bikinis, Texas. (At the town's grand opening, the servers made plaster casts of their breasts for a Hollywood Walk of Fame-style display.) Were this issue published in May, they would be the clear winner. But DFW-based Redneck Heaven enjoyed a late surge when its Anything But Clothes Day — featuring body paint, gumballs and, in one case, twin bags of swimming goldfish — was banned by the Lewisville City Council. In other words, the girls were just too damn naked. Truly a stroke of marketing genius.
The music at beer festivals is usually pretty lousy. And at music festivals, beer tends to be a mercilessly overpriced afterthought, with selection that ranges the spectrum all the way from Bud Light to Miller Lite. But when The Common Table and Spune Productions teamed up with Paste Magazine, they put equal emphasis on both. They've now pulled off three of the events, two in Dallas and one in Fort Worth, bringing in great indie acts and breweries. Acclaimed acts Delta Spirit, Blackalicious, Freelance Whales, Cults and Leagues set the mood at the most recent Dallas installment perfectly, and some of the best breweries in the world — including plenty of local and Texas companies — offered hard-to-find and unique brews to sample. The idea was such a hit, there's a spinoff fest called Canned in Denton October 5, as well as plans for Untapped events in Houston and Atlanta.
For two years, Chad and Nellie Montgomery's Fair Park brew fest has brought in dozens of breweries offering hundreds of great beers at reasonable prices. This year's edition included a handful of food trucks as well, which cut down greatly on the wait along with offering a better selection of potential pairings for the suds. The location, within stumbling distance of the Fair Park DART train station, meant there were no excuses for drunken driving afterward. And the specialty and one-off brews were some of the best we've seen at a beer fest. Inspired by Denver's Great American Beer Festival, the two want to grow their own fest into a destination event, and with a sell-out crowd of 5,300 at the 2013 Big Texas Beer Fest, it may well be on its way to such a status. We'll drink to that.