Bradenton, Sarasota on big, small screen: 'Spring Breakers,' ESPN2, Comedy Central

September 9, 2012 

Manatee rocked last Sunday afternoon on national TV.

The powerhouse high school football team opened the regular season with a 41-6 pummeling of Miramar live on ESPN2.

Not bad publicity for Bradenton, which got mentioned many times.

But would it kill the network to spend some down time, and there was plenty Sunday, showing off the Bradenton area beyond Hawkins Stadium?

How about mention our famous sugary sand beaches?

Or Riverwalk?

Or some of our famed, fresh seafood-serving restaurants?

Did ESPN even have access to such information?

If not, someone dropped the ball.

Meanwhile, film critics and such from around the world saw Sarasota.

And it caused a stir.

It seems Selena Gomez has gone from Disney darling to wild child thanks to her "shocking" new movie "Spring Breakers."

In March, scenes were filmed at the Ringling College of Art and Design and other parts of Sarasota as well as St. Pete Beach.

The movie premiered Wednesday at the Venice International Film Festival.

Directed by the controversial Harmony Korine (screenwriter of "Kids"), it stars Gomez and fellow Disney graduate Vanessa Hudgens "as bikini-clad revellers on a drink-and drug-fuelled orgy of beach parties and pranks," according to Reuters.

"The camera zooms in on scantily clad teenagers gyrating to the music, local drug dealers snort cocaine from writhing, topless girls and mobsters cruise the streets of Florida in Lamborghinis in a hedonistic portrait of the 'American Dream.' "

Ah, the Sunshine State at its finest.

Gomez plays Faith, one of four wild young college students celebrating spring break.

"Obviously I know that coming from Dis

ney Channel gives you kind of a brand in a way," the 20-year-old told reporters in Italy after the movie was screened to the press.

"People do put a label on you. I know that I have younger fans, and this is an opportunity for myself to kind of grow. It is a little shocking, I think, for the younger audiences ... but I think it was right for me."

So if the movie becomes a blockbuster will it bring more spring breakers to Siesta Key?

Or Bradenton Beach?

And is that a good thing?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Back on TV, the Tuesday episode of "The Burn with Jeff Ross" on Comedy Central found the sultan of snark roasting the week's topics with the help of Natasha Leggero.

She's the hilariously witty, charmingly deviant daughter of Holmes Beach resident Johnny 'Leggs' Leggero.

Natasha crushed while Pops also enjoyed plenty of face time Tuesday.

Now, if we can just get Natasha to perform next year at the new Manatee Performing Arts Center.

She does stand-up at clubs nationwide, recently appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and can be regular seen on friend Chelsea Handler's top-rated E! show "Chelsea Lately."

Maybe Dad could get her to film a comedy special here.

And include an opening montage with some shots of the beautiful Bradenton area.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer and columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter@wtatangelo.

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