By Mindy Farabee, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 11, 2008
"Lost" meets "Heroes," crossed with "Desperate Housewives," a little reality TV and a fiddle -- what's not to love?
And love it they did. The Band From TV, a charity cover band created by actor Greg Grunberg ("Felicity," "Alias" and now "Heroes") thrilled the audience at a Netflix Live! On Location free concert and classic-TV screening Saturday.
That evening's version of the band was Grunberg on drums, fellow "Heroes" star Adrian Pasdar and "Desperate Housewives' " sultry plumber James Denton playing guitar, "House's" Jesse Spencer on electric violin and "Bachelor" Bob Guiney on vocals. "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher also made two appearances at the mike.
Grunberg's personal cause is the Pediatric Epilepsy Project, and prior to the show, he walked the red carpet with his 10-year-old son, Jake, who has epilepsy. Netflix made a donation to get the band to play. "The epilepsy community has been hit so hard for so long with a stigma, I just want to associate anything cool, anything out of the box with it," Grunberg said.
As for the Band From TV, he said: "It's familiar faces singing familiar songs." Their appearance in Griffith Park on the side lawn of the Autry National Center created a summer-fest vibe, joined as they were by an audience of about 1,800 people sprawled out with coolers and lawn chairs -- the kind of all-ages, mixed-ethnicity, flip-flop and Zeppelin-T-shirt-wearing crowd that could trick a casual observer into believing Angelenos look just like regular people.
Many of whom quickly took to their feet and reached for their cameras as Billy Preston's "Nothing From Nothing" faded from the sound system and a whooping Guiney bounded onstage. After delivering a brief Netflix commercial and helping to preside over a quick Netflix giveaway, the Band frontman -- with a little help from another "Heroes" star, Hayden Panettiere -- whipped up the crowd, managing to elicit screams nearly as loud as his own.
At this point, "Lost's" Jorge Garcia arrived to get the ball rolling with a throaty version of "Mustang Sally," prompting an appreciative little boogie from a smattering of those of a "Mustang Sally" vintage.
According to Grunberg, the band is lucky to manage two to three rehearsals a month, but aided by an extra set of keyboards, a horn section, some backup singers, a third guitarist and a bassist, the unit nevertheless offered up a big, tight sound, and the happy feet soon spread.
Panettiere stuck around during Garcia's number to bop around and lend some backup. From there came cameos from "Chuck" star Zach Levi, trading verses with Guiney on "The Letter," and then "House" himself, Hugh Laurie, with a swingy rendition of "Such a Night."
It took a few numbers, but the stage-adjacent squeals eventually reached a most regular consistency -- Laurie was rewarded with a round just for bugging his eyes.
But then, this is a crew that knows how to work a room. Hatcher riffed on some microphone trouble with, "I need some big, strong plumber to help me out," and Denton got his share of audible reaction for slipping off his white oxford to perform the twangy "Papa Loves Mama" in a gray tank top, showing off some well-defined biceps and a tattoo.
"He's in pretty good shape," enthused one onlooker, "and he must be 40." (Actually, 45, according to the Internet Movie Database.)
At the end, Grunberg called it the band's best show yet. "Do you guys want some more? Because you look like you're ready to go home and go to sleepy times," he said, egging the audience into demanding an encore. One song later, it was all over but the final Netflix plug, segueing into the evening's screenings of old TV shows.