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Christopher Spata, Times Staff Writer

Christopher Spata

Christopher Spata is a web producer and features writer for the Tampa Bay Times, focusing on entertainment, pop culture, social media and things to do. He also contributes to The Feed blog. A lifelong Floridian, he previously worked as a web producer and entertainment reporter for the Tampa Tribune, and covered sports for the Ocala Star-Star Banner. He graduated from the University of South Florida in 2011, and joined the Times in 2016.

Phone: (727) 893-8719

Email: cspata@tampabay.com

Twitter: @spatatimes

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  1. People are paying good money to watch other people play video games in Tampa

    Events

    By CHRISTOPHER SPATA

    Times Staff Writer

    A troupe of performers will walk on stage Sunday.

    Fans who shelled out more — sometimes far more — than $50 to be in the audience at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts will be psyched. Some will have traveled across the state for this.

    The performers will take a seat, pick up controllers and play video games for nearly three hours. ...

    Geoff Ramsey, co-founder of Rooster Teeth and Achievement Hunter, at a Let's Play Live tour event in 2016. He'll be in Tampa for Sunday's show. [Rooster Teeth]
  2. St. Petersburg Movies in the Park begins tonight; here's the full schedule including 'Top Gun' and 'Princess Bride'

    Blog

    St. Petersburg Preservation's annual Movies in the Park begins its 2017 season of free movies tonight with the 2012 feature about World War II's Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard.

    Red Tails will be screened at a special, new location for the Movies in the Park, the garden at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum at 2240 9th Ave. S at 7 p.m. Alcohol and animals will not be allowed....

    "Top Gun" starring Tom Cruise is among the movies coming to St. Petersburg's Movies in the Park series for 2017.
  3. Who tows a boat like this? Someone in Pasco County apparently (w/video)

    Blog

    A video of a highly unorthodox, and probably dangerous method of towing a boat has gone viral from Pasco County.

    Kenneth Keegan spotted the boat and posted this video to his Facebook page. In it you can hear him asking "What the hell?" and joking, "When you have to go fishing in Hudson, and you don't have a trailer."...

    A still from the video captured by Kenneth Keegan.
  4. Eaters will crown wieners at event-packed RiverFest in Tampa

    Events

    It's all about wieners and winners May 6 and 7 at RiverFest in downtown Tampa.

    The big addition to the third annual celebration of the Tampa Riverwalk is Saturday's Hot Dog Festival at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, which includes the crowning of "Tampa Bay's Best Hot Dog" through public voting, an eating competition and a "wiener dog derby."

    Admission to RiverFest events is free, but for the price of a $13 wristband you can sample hot dog entries from local restaurants and cast a vote for the area's best from 4 to 8 p.m. on May 6....

    There will be a weiner dog derby featuring dog races and other contests at Riverfest. [Riverfest]
  5. From St. Pete to Cannes: Web series showcases Pinellas filmmaking with zero state money

    The Feed

    Created and recorded in St. Petersburg on a shoestring budget, BTS is a wacky web series about an indie film company where staff meetings generate ideas ranging from bad to terrible.

    "It's Waterworld meets the Muppets," says a character in the first episode, offering up his ridiculous pitch for a new project. "Five samurai, and they're all looking for Kanye West," says another. One character sings a song about her promiscuous cat....

    BTS main cast members get pitched movie ideas in a scene filmed at Litewave Studios. (Left to right: Chris Cavalier, Lucius Baston, Alison Burns, Chris Jackson, Alissa Schneider) [Litewave Studios]
  6. 'Heat' and 'Westworld' among rare screenings at Tampa Theatre

    Blog

    Tampa Theatre's offbeat Rewind film series has '90s action, '70s sci fi and an Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy on the slate for the next couple months.

    On May 2, director Michael Mann's two-hour and 50-minute crime masterpiece Heat, starring Al Pacino, Robert Deniro and Val Kilmer, will screen at 8:30 p.m. 

    The screening is part of promotions for the May 9 release of a Heat "Directors Definitive Edition" on Blu-ray and DVD, and will include a live-streamed question and answer session with Mann himself before the show....

    "Heat" is set to screen at Tampa Theatre, with a live-streamed Q&A with director Michael Mann.
  7. Video: Food Network star Alton Brown tries Tampa's cuban sandwiches, says they weren't 'what I expected'

    General

    As connoisseurs of classic, Tampa-style Cuban sandwiches will tell you, lettuce and tomato on a Cuban is controversial at the least, and downright blasphemous in some circles.

    So Alton Brown, James Beard award-winning cookbook author and star of Food Network's Good Eats and Iron Chef America, was a little taken aback to find both on a Tampa-bought Cuban on Friday.

    Brown was in town for his live show at Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and posted a video to his Facebook page of a four-sandwich taste test of the city's most recommended Cubans....

    Alton Brown did a blind taste test of some Cuban sandwiches during a tour stop in Tampa. [Alton Brown via Facebook]
  8. Did you know Tampa's flag is a 'monstrosity'? No one else does, either

    Human Interest

    Tampa has a flag.

    It's flying over Old City Hall and Water Works Park and Tampa Police headquarters, and it was there hanging limp behind Mayor Bob Buckhorn as cameras rolled during his recent State of the City Address.

    And yet, despite having been around for 77 years, that news — that Tampa even has a flag — often surprises locals.

    Show it to a fourth-generation Tampa native and they might say, "Oh, that's what it looks like?" Show it to a professional graphic designer, and you may get a sneer. ...

    The City of Tampa flag. [Wikimedia Commons]
  9. Gallery: City flags from around Florida and the U.S.

    Local Government

    Some of these Florida city flags were ranked in a North American Vexillogical Association survey of its members. Out of 150 flags that were part of that survey, St. Petersburg was the top flag in the state at No. 23, followed by Jacksonville (No. 38); Tallahassee (No. 65); Miami (No. 70); Tampa (No. 79) and Hialeah (No. 145). We've also included a sampling of other city flags from Tampa Bay and around the nation....

    The flag of Los Angeles. The flag of Los Angeles, California, consists of a background of three notched stripes of green, gold and red. The colors represent olive trees (green), orange groves (gold) and vineyards (red).
  10. Gallery: Homemade designs for a new Tampa flag

    Local Government

    For as long as people have been talking online about their dislike of the old Tampa city flag, people have been posting their homemade designs for a new one. There's nothing official about these submissions, but here's a look at some of the designs that have popped up on social media.

    Gallery: Good and bad city flags from around Florida and the US...

    Tampa Pix posted this flag to Facebook.
  11. St. Petersburg orphan whose story went worldwide celebrates two years with forever family

    Human Interest

    Two years after he was adopted by his longtime caseworker, Davion Only Going is enjoying life with his forever family.

    The boy, who touched hearts around the globe after he went to a St. Petersburg church and pleaded for someone to adopt him, is now 19 and saving up for a car, according to a new story from the Daily Mail....

    Davion Only, second from left,  has his adoption finalized in 2015 at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center. New mom, Connie Going, left,  and new sibling Carley Going were there.  [Times files]
  12. Miami street renamed Moonlight Way after Oscar-winning film

    Blog

    A surprise Best Picture win at the Academy Awards has culminated in a street in Miami's Liberty City being renamed Moonlight Way after the Miami-set film Moonlight, the Miami Herald reports.

    The film's creators Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney grew up in the Liberty City neighborhood. ...

    Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes in "Moonlight."
  13. Richard Simmons hospitalized, but recovering, report says

    Blog

    If you've heard the viral podcast Missing Richard Simmonsyou know it's a rare occasion that anyone knows where reclusive fitness icon Richard Simmons is these days, but on Monday he was in the hospital, according to a report.

    Simmons' rep told ABC News that Simmons was taken to an unspecified California hospital after "battling severe indigestion and discomfort while eating." The rep added, "He's already feeling better and is expected to make a full recovery."...

    Richard Simmons in New York in 2013.
  14. 10News WTSP ditches traditional newcasts for viral focus, introduces new anchors

    The Feed

    St. Petersburg-based CBS affiliate 10News WTSP debuted a new look Tuesday morning, complete with new on-air personalities, a redesigned set and even a new 10News logo.

    The new 10News Brightside is part of what the station's managers are calling a top-to-bottom revamp of its newscasts. The station is shifting its focus toward buzzy, viral stories that viewers are discussing on social media platforms, and away from the more traditional approach to delivering the news....

    Jackie Fernandez is among several new anchors and reporters who debuted on 10News WTSP on Tuesday. [WTSP]
  15. How to get free food and other stuff Tuesday for tax day

    Food & Dining

    With April 15 falling on a Saturday, and Monday being a holiday in Washington, D.C., Americans had a few extra days to pay their taxes in 2017. But now, the time has come. Today is tax day, and it's probably a bummer if you ended up owing money to the IRS.

    As usual, there are quite a few businesses looking to cheer you up with tax day deals and freebies. Here are some of the deals to take advantage of in the Tampa Bay area....

    Bruegger's Bagels is offering a bagel pack deal for tax day. [Bruegger's]