Brian K. Vaughan’s Under the Dome premieres tonight


Brian K. Vaughan

Tonight, CBS will premiere the first episode of Under the Dome, a TV series spinoff of the Stephen King novel of the same name. But why should Ohio ex-pats care? Because the series’ executive producer is Brian K. Vaughan, a former writer for Lost and—more importantly—a Cleveland native.

Vaughan, who also wrote tonight’s episode, first made a name for himself as a comic book writer. After working on such prestigious titles as X-Men, Spiderman, and Batman, Vaughan created his own series, Y: The Last Man, for Vertigo in 2002, then launched Ex Machina, published by DC under the Wildstorm imprint, in 2004. Even after working on Lost (he was a writer and producer for seasons three to five), he has continued doing comics, releasing the first issue of Saga last year and unveiling The Private Eye, a digital-only comic, in March. He was first selected to adapt King’s novel for television by Steven Spielberg in 2011. The project was originally intended for Showtime, however, the network’s president, David Nevins, passed on it, but suggested it to his counterpart at CBS, Nina Tassler.

Check out the trailer for Under the Dome, which will air at 10pm on Mondays, below. You’ll notice that a neighboring town is named Westlake, the Cleveland suburb where Vaughan’s parents still live.

Former MTV VJ Nina Blackwood in Brooklyn today

NinaBlackwoodToday2Nina Blackwood, one of the original MTV VJs, grew up in Rocky River, a westside suburb of Cleveland. After moving to Los Angeles, where she busked playing rock & roll songs on the harp, she was the first VJ hired for the fledgling music video channel after she responded to an ad in the newspaper. Prior to her five-year stint with MTV, Blackwood’s biggest brush with fame had been a nude appearance in a 1978 Playboy “Girls of the Office” pictorial.

These days Blackwood hosts her own Sirius XM radio show, as well as two nationally syndicated programs. Tonight she will be appearing with the other remaining original VJs: Martha Quinn (who, in another Ohio connection, dated Stiv Bators for a spell), Mark Goodman, and Alan Hunter. (J.J. Jackson suffered a heart attack and passed away in 2004.) The occasion is the release of VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave, a book written with Rolling Stone contributing editor Gavin Edwards, who will be joining the VJs at 7pm at Powerhouse Arena.

This Day in Ohio Birthdays: Dave Chappelle

Comedian Dave Chappelle was born in Washington, DC, but growing up a child of divorced parents, he split his time between his birthplace, where his mother lived, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his father was a professor at Antioch College.

Chappelle moved to New York when he was 18 to pursue a career as a comedian, appearing in various movies and television shows throughout the ’90s. He is, of course, most famous for his weekly sketch comedy show, Chappelle’s Show, which aired on Comedy Central from 2003 to 2005. He is just as famous for quitting the show at the height of its popularity, later citing burnout, loss of creative control and an uncomfortable work environment as the reasons for putting the kibosh on the program. In the subsequent years, Chappelle has returned to stand-up comedy, making surprise appearances at clubs and announcing shows at theaters either the day before or the day of his performance.

Sometime after his father died, Chappelle returned to Yellow Springs, where he continues to live with his wife and two sons. Today he is 39 years old.

Electric Grandmother at Goodbye Blue Monday tonight

While the Electric Grandmother first took shape while he was living in Hawaii, it wasn’t until Aurora, Ohio–native Pete Faust moved to Columbus in 2001 that his musical project really came to fruition. Once back in Ohio, Faust and his wife Mary Alice Hamnett began performing their self-branded sitcom-core live and self-releasing CDR albums. As the description indicates, these albums consisted largely of songs detailing Faust’s obsession with situation comedies from the ’80s like Golden Girls, Full House and Doogie Howser. Live, the duo accompanies their music with video projections and special effects like bubbles and balloons. Tonight, the couple, who now lives in Washington DC, will be bringing this spectacle to Goodbye Blue Monday, where they will be performing songs from their upcoming album, Love in an Escalator. Check out a song from the album, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” below.

The Electric Grandmother – Mrs. Doubtfire

JD Samson at CBGB Festival Tonight and DJing Sunday

I told you before how Pepper Pike native and Let Tigre member JD Samson would be playing with her other band MEN at the Gramercy Theater as part of the CBGB Festival tonight. She is also going to be djing this weekend at L Magazine’s season three premiere of Showtime’s The Real L Word. The shindig will take place Sunday at the Knitting Factory from 7pm to 11pm, and will be attended by members of the cast and include performances by Hunter Valentine and Making Friendz.

This Day in Ohio Birthdays: Sarah Jessica Parker

Having played Carrie Bradshaw, whose love affair with the Big Apple was as central to Sex and the City as the one she had with Mr. Big, Sarah Jessica Parker has long been thought of as a quintessential New Yorker. But she too is an Ohio ex-pat. Parker was born in Nelsonville in 1965, but after living in Cincinnati for a short period, her family moved to Dobbs Ferry and then Roosevelt Island so she could continue her training in singing and ballet (she studied at the American Ballet School and the Professional Children’s School). Though Sarah and her family moved to California briefly so she could star in the one season of cult favorite Square Pegs, whose theme song was by The Waitresses (from Akron) and featured Devo (also from Akron) performing in an episode, she returned to New York and continues to live here with husband Matthew Broderick. Today she is 47.

This Day in Ohio Birthdays: Arsenio Hall

Today we wish Arsenio Hall happy birthday. Hall, who was born in Cleveland and graduated from Kent State University, is best known for his eponymous talk show that ran from 1989 to 1994, as well as his appearances in films like Coming to America and Harlem Nights. While Hall’s star hasn’t shined quite as bright in recent years, he returns to television next Sunday (February 19) on The Celebrity Apprentice, along with such other celebs as Debbie Gibson and Dee Snyder. Below is a video of Whitney Houston (RIP) wishing Arsenio, who is now 56 years old, a happy birthday in 1989.