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Off Limits

Just when you thought the My Twinn dolls were dead, dead, dead, they've come back -- Chucky-like! -- for a return engagement. And for the sake of little girls everywhere, let's hope that this sequel is more successful than Bride of Chucky.

Earlier this year, the Greenwood Village-based company responsible for cloning children in hard plastic declared bankruptcy, leaving behind a stack of unfulfilled orders and hundreds of disappointed would-be doll owners. For those who'd always been creeped out by the My Twinn display at Denver International Airport, though, the company's woes came as good news -- no need for another bullet to the head to kill off this horror. But in life, as in any good horror movie, it's never safe to look the other way.

Because in June, Denver toy company eToys Direct bought Lifelike Doll Company's assets out of bankruptcy for $1.06 million. Now it plans to unleash the beasts on an unsuspecting public in early September. "There is a lot of demand from parents for dolls that look like their children," says eToys spokeswoman Sheliah Gilliland. "The little girls love it."

The little narcissists loved them so much that orders for the dolls, which cost between $80 and $150, overwhelmed the company that had invented them. Lifelike Doll failed to deliver on hundreds of orders last Christmas. But eToys isn't legally responsible for finding that lost tribe. "We've been in the toy-fulfillment business since 1999, and we are good at scaling for the holiday season, so obviously we're making some changes to how the orders are fulfilled," Gilliland explains. "We've really tried to unravel what happened, but unfortunately, we don't have the complete information to be able to match up customers with orders. We feel terrible for those customers."

Those still interested in buying dolls that not only look like their kid but dress like their kid can explore their options on the updated website and in a My Twinn catalogue that will debut next month -- but not at DIA. Throughout much of the bankruptcy proceedings, the dollies continued to smirk from airport signs, acting as an unofficial welcoming committee for unsuspecting tourists, despite the fact that the little devils were no longer for sale. But that contract's finally up, and the ads have come down. Beware, Chucky.

Verse-case scenario: Don't bother asking José Mercado what he did on his summer vacation.

When the head of North High School's theater department wasn't getting ready for the school year that started this past Monday, he gave private acting classes and did voiceovers for Qdoba Mexican Grill and Good Times commercials. He's also the new voice of Coors Brewing Company on the company's voice-mail system. Well, half of the voice, at least: Chip Walton, the producing artistic director for Curious Theatre Company, answers callers in English, while Mercado does duty in Spanish. The beer behemoth hired the two theater buffs because they sound so much alike.

Mercado will read at "Politically Outrageous: Iraq Now," the August 29 edition of Stories on Stage at the Mercury Cafe, and performed for Walton two weeks ago -- his first time on stage as an actor rather than a director in more than two years. "I performed for the first time since I left L.A. at Curious Theatre's New Voices project," Mercado says. "I was nervous. I think I'm getting used to directing and not having to perform. I like the people at Curious. The environment reminds me of the Evidence Room Theater in L.A., where I worked with Megan Mullally."

This weekend, he'll be on Denver's biggest stage -- although as a director, not a performer -- when he brings North's spring musical, Zoot Suit Riots, to the Buell Theater for a one-night-only fundraiser to benefit North's theater department. All of the original cast members will be there, including lead Emily Hare, who is jetting back to Denver from her freshman year at the University of Hawaii.

"The big step was the kids getting to see Chicago last week," Mercado says. "They showed up in their costumes and handed out questionnaires for the theater. It was a breakthrough for the kids to see such a great show and a period piece. They all saw the film, but to see such a great show on that stage pumped them up, because they've gotten a bit used to the success at North. Now it's upped the ante of what needs to be done at the Buell. What I was personally wanting to do in the classroom was install an element of professionalism, and never did I think that the kids would get to perform on a professional stage." The riots start at 8 p.m., with tickets ranging from $15 to $30.

"We're there because it's a great show," Mercado adds, "but we're also there because we need the money to save the theater classes at North. The arts are always the first to go at public schools. But the students are eager to move on to another production."  

The next play won't be any easier than the ambitious Zoot Suit. After discovering that many of his students love poetry, Mercado decided to challenge them with Blood Wedding, by Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. "It's another play that I like," he says. "It's also unusual for a high school to do. Like with Zoot Suit, we can play with language because it was originally written in Spanish. And this play is essentially a long poem, so we'll be tackling how to perform poetry."

Exit, stage left.

Scene and herd: Saturday night, Lil Jon and his party peeps were chillin' in Club Soul, eschewing the Fish Bowl -- otherwise known as the VIP area -- for the press of the masses. "He and his whole crew got up and journeyed into the crowd; they poured shots into the women," says DJ Style N Fashion, a resident DJ at Soul. "The best part was when they came in, they didn't make a big deal out of it. You should have just heard the screams erupting. And then they were breaking out the cell-phone cameras. Lil Jon stayed until we closed the doors, and when the lights came up, he probably spent about a half an hour signing anything people wanted signed, shaking hands, generally being a really good person. All the little famous people come through here and they're assholes, but Lil Jon was not an asshole." Now, that's crunk....

Last week was a very good week for clowns. Not only did Denver residents make it safe for the red-nosed ones to visit our city with their circuses, but Blinky the Clown got bailed out by some fans. After reading the August 12 Off Limits item about Blinky, Pete Cook, Steve Soper, Larry Applemans, Ken Glass, Steve Simmons and Leon Simmons, all employees of local glass outfit Thermal Advantage, and all childhood fans of Blinky's Fun Club on Channel 2, donated $500 so that Denver's number-one clown can replace the smashed window of his South Broadway shop, Blinky's Antiques and Collectibles. "We have people here who were actually on the show," says Leon Simmons. "We feel he's very special. He's kind of like the Broncos."


What's So Funny?

By Adam Cayton-Holland

Governor Bill Owens seems to be everywhere these days. Between ACLU debates against Howard Dean and guest appearances on Real Time With Bill Maher, the public has had ample opportunity to gaze upon his waxed-face, transvestite-like visage. But with the state steaming toward one of the most politically charged Senate races in history, with complaints of police wrongdoing in Denver on the rise, with public schools closing because of ineptitude, with Owens himself facing a class-action suit for allegedly raiding $442 million in state funds for budget needs -- in the process, violating the Colorado Constitution -- surely the governor might want to focus on the state a little bit, maybe put the media blitz on the back burner.

"Governor Owens is very excited to be hosting his own sports show," says Dan Hopkins, Owens's press secretary.

A sports show? That solves everything!

Starting in October, Owens will co-host a monthly, one-hour sports and outdoor recreation program on the new Altitude Sports and Entertainment television network. The yet-to-be-titled show -- how about At the Taxpayer's Expense? -- will highlight recent news and events, sharing stories from the worlds of professional and amateur sports. Anyone else smell a local Emmy?

"Sports and outdoor recreation are integral parts of our Western lifestyle and heritage," Owens explains in Altitude's release announcing its new star. "The monthly program will be an opportunity to tell unique stories not only about professional athletes but about people from all walks of life who participate in sports and outdoor activities."

Owens will have the ultimate say on what segments air, and he can approach producers with his own ideas. And what might those be? Glad you asked.

SoBoard: ongoing segment in which Owens goes undercover as dreadlocked, burnout transient to bust pot-smoking snowboarders at area ski resorts

Rocky Mountain Survivor: graphic nine-minute bit in which governor gnaws off own leg in order to escape high-country bear trap

Not Figure Skating, Queer: sit-down with Focus on the Family to explain which sports are appropriate for boys, which sports are appropriate for girls

Glory Days: entire episode dedicated to fumbling game of piss-drunk whiffle ball between Owens and Pete Coors  

Soccer Is for Illegal Immigrants: rip-roaring monthly Mexi-sweeps of city parks and fields

Bobo's Home Is Here: whimsical animated segments illustrating joyous life of circus animals/ totally unrelated revenue benefits once curtain drops

: Republican Leaders Jumping Rope With Minority Students!

East of Bumfuck: majestic journey to plains town of Lamar for annual Pump N' Go pong tournament between cousins Jarvis and Skeeter Mulrooney.


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