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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


Twitter: @spatatimes

  1. Review: It's Stitch Fix for Men vs. Trunk Club in a battle for my closet


    There's a new competitor on the subscription box scene. Stitch Fix For Men launched in September, offering guys who don't like to shop, or maybe don't have much time for it, their own version of the popular Stitch Fix, which some women swear by (and others, not so much). ...

    The clothes from Stitch Fix came wrapped neatly in butcher paper, like a juicy steak.
  2. Free parking returning to Tampa's Hard Rock Casino due to 'customer concern'


    TAMPA — The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is getting rid of its controversial parking fee.

    Parking in all of the casino's garages will once again be free beginning Tuesday, casino spokesperson Nikki Yourison told the Tampa Bay Times.

    In a news release, the casino said the decision to get rid of the $10 charge instituted six months ago is due to "guest concerns," as well as the re-opening of nearly 500 parking spaces that had been closed due to construction. ...

    The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will stop charging for parking in its garages on Feb. 21. [Times files]
  3. Bird caught on video eating an alligator


    Alligators eat birds all the time, but Facebook followers of the Florida Wildlife Commission seemed surprised to learn that it can go the other way around. The agency posted a video on Thursday showing a great blue heron chowing down on a small alligator in the Viera Wetlands near Melbourne. ...

  4. UPDATED: Someone is putting up missing person fliers for Marco Rubio


    (UPDATE No. 2: On Thursday morning, Alicia Keating, of Tampa, came forward to say she made the fliers for Action Together Tampa Bay, a group that on its website describes itself as "a progressive grassroots political and social advocacy organization," and has been posting the fliers across Tampa Bay.)

    (UPDATE: About an hour after this post was published, Rubio's office responded. Rubio spokesperson: "Anyone who claims they can't get in touch with Senator Rubio's office is being dishonest. Our Tampa office only has two employees and serves multiple counties, yet they have met with dozens of these liberal activists. This is nothing more than a strategy outlined in an online activist manual to carry out ‘mass office calling.' In the manual, activists are instructed that ‘you and your group should all agree to call in on one specific issue that day.' They are further instructed that ‘the next day or week, pick another issue, and call again on that.' Their goal is to flood offices with calls and emails and then go to the press and claim they aren't getting a response.") ...

    Flier found in the Old Northeast on Wednesday
  5. We tried the Cross-Bay Ferry for errands and fun. Here's what happened.


    The word "ferry" might conjure a giant vessel filled with rows on rows of sleepy commuters. Basically, a floating subway car.

    It's also possible, that "ferry" brings to mind an image of fun. You're holding a cocktail purchased on board. Smiling people are wearing shorts.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry, which began service between downtown Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg in November, is a little of both. You can commute to work on the Cross-Bay Ferry, but the vibe catching on is the latter one. The ferry is fun. It's filled with rows of high-backed, cushioned seats, big tables, and outdoor space. And how's this for a Tampa Bay touch: the bar serves locally brewed craft beer....

    Times staff writer Alexa Volland and Kennerly McVeigh ride the Cross-Bay Ferry to Tampa. Photo via Alexa Volland.
  6. Tampa's Brad Culpepper returning to 'Survivor' for reality series' 34th season


    We never really stop seeing Brad Culpepper's face here in Tampa Bay, what with all the billboards and commercials, but this spring the rest of the country will get reacquainted with him. 

    The Culpepper in Culpepper Kurland law firm, former Buccaneers player and Tampa resident is returning to national TV for Season 34 of the reality competition series Survivor. The new season titled Survivor: Game Changers will feature Culpepper, 47, as a member of the "Nuku" tribe....

    Brad Culpepper seen with his wife Monica Culpepper in 2013. Brad Culpepper will compete on Season 34 of "Survivor."
  7. Review: Rick Astley was feeling, and sounding, 'bloody marvelous' at his Clearwater birthday concert


    How's this for a clue that Rick Astley's current U.S. tour isn't for him just another run-of-the-mill, here-we-go-again jaunt in a never-ending series of live concerts, the way it might be for some performers who started doing this in the '80s. 

    When the newly 51-year-old singer's band surprised him with a birthday cake during a concert at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Monday, Astley's wife couldn't resist stepping out to the stage to snap a few quick pics with her phone, not for some kind of social media promotion, but just to document the occasion as a family, the way you imagine she might if they were home in their kitchen....

    Rick Astley performs at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Monday.
  8. From fancy to thrifty, Tampa Bay date ideas that will cause heart eyes


    Sometimes you want date night to be fancy, and are willing to spend some extra dollars to get there. And sometimes, you want nothing to do with that noise.

    There's no special occasion required for getting dressed up and doing something extravagant, just like there's no reason that having a special night out has to mean changing out of jeans or maxing out a credit card. Both kinds of dates — fancy and cheap — can be had in abundance in Tampa Bay....

    Private booths with curtains provide customers with privacy while at Ciro's Speakeasy. That's pretty fancy.
  9. In Case You Missed It: Melissa McCarthy plays Sean Spicer on 'SNL'; Spuds MacKenzie returns; new trailers for 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' 'Stranger Things' and more


    Weekends are great for unwinding, and maybe even unplugging for a little while. Here's what trended that you might have missed if you weren’t on social media the last couple days. 

    Melissa McCarthy plays Trump's press secretary

    Melissa McCarthy wasn't the host of Saturday Night Live last week (that honor went to Kristen Stewart) but McCarthy did show up to eat chewing gum, offer an apology "on behalf of the press to me," and spray reporters with a Super Soaker as she introduced her impression press secretary Sean Spicer during a White House news conference sketch. Watch the whole thing below....

    Melissa McCarthy played White House press secretary Sean Spicer on "Saturday Night Live."
  10. How to see and edit your really weird Friends Day video on Facebook


    Today is, apparently, Friends Day, or, more appropriately, #friendsday.

    That's what Facebook, the social media site where you add "friends," has branded today in celebration of its 13th anniversary of existing (even though founder Mark Zuckerberg has previously celebrated Facebook's birthday on Feb. 4, but whatever). ...

    This guy has some moves, I'll give him that.
  11. Beyonce posts Instagram photo showing she's pregnant with twins (w/photo)


    Beyonce dropped a bomb on Instagram this afternoon. She's pregnant. With twins.

    And she's still gon' slay (based on the very Beyonce, very fabulous photo she used to announce the news).

    "We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your well wishes. - The Carters," read the caption accompanying the photo of Beyonce wearing a veil and showing off her belly....

    Beyonce posted this photo to Instagram on Wednesday.
  12. Teen singer wins 'hometown hero' contest to open for Bon Jovi in Tampa


    A high school student from Venice, Fla. will perform live for what's likely to be a massive audience at Amalie Arena next month. 

    Hannah Jae, 16, is the winner of the "hometown hero" contest to open up for Bon Jovi when the band plays Tampa on Feb. 14. According to Live Nation, thousands of musicians have submitted videos to enter the contest hoping to win a chance to open for Bon Jovi at concerts across the U.S....

    Hannah Jae, winner of the "hometown hero" contest, will open for Bon Jovi at Amalie Arena.
  13. Ellen DeGeneres is 'not going to talk about the travel ban,' but she will discuss Trump watching 'Finding Dory' (w/video)


    Ellen DeGeneres said she didn't want to talk about the president's travel ban during her talk show on Monday, but she found a clever way to make her point anyway by instead talking about the plot of her animated film Finding Dory. 

    "On Friday the president gave an order banning people from seven countries from entering the United States, including people with green cards. And then on Saturday, the president screened Finding Dory at the White House. I don't get political, but I will say that I am against one of those two things," DeGeneres said, drawing a big laugh from her audience. ...

    Ellen DeGeneres explained the plot of 'Finding Dory' after noting that President Donald Trump had screened the movie at the White House.
  14. Hooters opening new fast-casual concept Hoots, with male and female servers


    As Chipotle, Panera and similar restaurants advertising higher quality at a faster pace continue to gain popularity, Hooters, the long-time chain known for wings, short shorts and table service, is dipping its toe into the fast-casual waters.

    The Clearwater-based Hooters Management Corp., the smaller of the two companies that operate Hooters restaurants around the world, announced Tuesday it will open Hoots, A Hooters Joint, outside of Chicago next month. ...

    This rendering shows what the new Hoots in Cicero, Ill. will look like when it opens in mid-February. [Hooters Management Corp.]
  15. The Chainsmokers set concert date at Tampa's Amalie Arena


    The Chainsmokers have announced their first full-length album, and they're bringing the 40-date Memories: Do Not Open tour to Tampa. 

    The pop-leaning EDM production duo behind the smash hit Closer featuring Halsey— which they gave Tampa fans an early taste of during last year's Sunset Music Festival — will perform at Amalie Arena on April 14. ...

    The Chainsmokers performed at the Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium in 2016. They'll return to Tampa to play Amalie Arena in April.