Go Fact Yourself LIVE with Bruce Vilanch and Josefina López
Join us in the Crawford Family Forum as LAist hosts another live-in-person recording of Go Fact Yourself – “the podcast where we quiz the smartest celebrities we know, and find out why they love what they love.” The show will be recorded as a podcast, but you’ll be able to see and hear it weeks before the rest of the world!
This time, hosts J. Keith van Straaten (he/him) and Helen Hong (she/her) will welcome comedy writer and actor Bruce Vilanch and writer/actor/comedian Josefina López, plus super-secret special experts to try to stump them in their self-proclaimed areas of expertise.
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ABOUT BRUCE VILANCH
Bruce Vilanch is an American comedy writer, songwriter and actor. He is a two-time Emmy Award-winner. Vilanch is best known to the public for his four-year stint on Hollywood Squares, as a celebrity participant; behind the scenes he was head writer for the show. In 2000, he performed off-Broadway in his self-penned one-man show, Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous.
From 2000 to 2014, Vilanch was the head writer for the Oscars, after being an Oscar program co-writer for the previous ten years. He is a featured writer for the Tonys, Grammys, and Emmys.
Known for his eclectic eyewear and collection of unique T-shirts, he began as a child model for Lane Bryant, but when his initial efforts as an actor came to naught, he became an entertainment writer for the Chicago Tribune instead. Impressed by his review of her cabaret performance in 1970, Bette Midler hired him to punch up her act where he gave birth to Midler’s famed Sophie Tucker jokes. He later moved to Los Angeles where he wrote for variety shows like the original “Donny and Marie” and “The Brady Bunch Hour” (both ABC) and provided material for Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers. He has maintained his connection with Midler through the years, working on such projects as the feature “Divine Madness” (1980) and the TV special “Bette Midler–Diva Las Vegas” (HBO, 1997), as well as writing for her short-lived but lively sitcom, “Bette!” (CBS, 2000 ).
He made his feature debut as a dress manufacturer in “Mahogany’ (1975), starring Diana Ross, and also contributed material to her live act. Mr. Vilanch put his Muppet-like persona to excellent use as Santa’s number one helper in the syndicated TV-movie “It Nearly Wasn’t Christmas” (1989).
ABOUT JOSEFINA LÓPEZ
Josefina López is a writer, director, producer, and performer best known for authoring the play and co-authoring the 2002 SUNDANCE AWARD WINNING film Real Women Have Curves. In 2019, her film was inducted into the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. In 2021, her film, Real Women Have Curves was one of the Inaugural Exhibits opening the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where the movie was screened, and Josefina participated in a Q&A. Josefina started her writing career at 17 and has had over 100 productions of her many plays throughout the country. Josefina has been working as a professional screenwriter in Hollywood for almost 30 years with countless development deals and screenplay assignments.
Josefina is the Founding Artistic Director of CASA 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights which will be celebrating its 23rd anniversary in 2023. Josefina is presently developing the musical version of Real Women Have Curves for Broadway. Her two play collections Real Women Have Curves & Other Plays and Detained in the Desert and Other Plays as well as her countless books can be found on Amazon. She is working on numerous writing projects for the stage, screen and for print including the TV version of Real Women Have Curves & Hungry Woman and a supernatural animation film for Sony Studio.
ABOUT J. KEITH VAN STRAATEN
- Keith van Straaten is a content producer/writer for TV game shows, including The Hustler, Master Minds, Funny You Should Ask and In the USA Today, and wrote trivia questions for Bally Sports. He was also a longtime senior writer on NPR’s Ask Me Another.
Previously, he wrote many of the games on GSN’s Chain Reaction and the iPhone trivia app Arena. He created and hosted the live matchmaking show The Fix-Up Show, as well as hosting What’s My Line? – Live On Stage and Comedy Central’s Beat The Geeks.
- Keith has appeared on Best Week Ever, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Beverly Hills, 90210, and a deleted scene in Gilmore Girls.
As a journalist, J. Keith has written about COVID and comedy for the Los Angeles Times, points and miles for ThePointsGuy.com, and theatre for tdf Stages magazine.
- Keith has two cats and is an avid Angels fan.
ABOUT HELEN HONG
Helen Hong is a fan favorite on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and is also known for her scene-stealing roles on Silicon Valley, Never Have I Ever, and The Unicorn. She brings awareness to Asian-American issues with her family’s YouTube channel Old Korean Dad Stories, and hosts the trivia podcast Go Fact Yourself.
Helen was featured in the Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, and is a recurring character in two series, The Thundermans on Nickelodeon and Blunt Talk on Starz. Helen has also guest starred on Jane the Virgin, Parks and Recreation, Pretty Little Liars, and Splitting Up Together.
Helen’s sharp wit on current events have been featured on CNN, PBS, The Young Turks and The Stephanie Miller Show. A proud feminist and political progressive, her opinion videos on NowThis have surpassed 7.1 million views.
Helen has performed for the troops in the Middle East and for international audiences in Asia, Europe and Latin America.
She always wants to pet your dog and have a bite of your donut. DO NOT LET HER HAVE THE WHOLE DONUT.
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- Sponsoring Organization: LAist
- Location or Venue: The Crawford Family Forum