Hal Sparks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hal Sparks
Hal Sparks.jpg
Born Harold Magee Sparks III[1]
(1969-09-25) September 25, 1969 (age 44)
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Occupation Actor/Comedian/Musician
Years active 1987–present
Website
Official website

Harold Magee Sparks III (born September 25, 1969), known as Hal Sparks, is an American actor, comedian, musician and television personality. He is known for his contributions to VH1, hosting E!'s Talk Soup, and the role of Michael Novotny on the American television series Queer as Folk.

Early life[edit]

Sparks was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, but grew up in the small community of Peaks Mill, Kentucky. He started Cub Scouts at age 7 and karate at age 8, and filled his childhood between video games, movies, and comedy albums, since the nearest TV was a mile from where he lived.[2]

When he was 14 years old, he moved to the Chicago area and enrolled at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, where he entered the theater department. Thanks to an influential teacher named Mrs. Adams, he was able to cultivate his natural talent and boundless energy into marketable skill. Despite some initial opposition by his father, by 15 he began performing standup comedy and by 17 he won the title of "Chicago's Funniest Teenager" from the Chicago Sun-Times.[3][4]

He also studied with The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago as a teenager.[citation needed]

Professional background[edit]

While still in high school, he became the host of the short-run Saturday game show Treasure Mall, just months shy of his 19th birthday. Upon graduation, Sparks moved to Los Angeles and after ten long years of paying his dues, he got his major TV break when he was hired to host Talk Soup in 1999.

He would go on to independently produce his first standup comedy DVD "Escape from Halcatraz" in 2008.

Sparks is a regular guest on such programs as CNN's Your $$$$$, The Joy Behar Show and The View when he's not hosting his own weekly progressive radio show.[5] He's also participated in the Progressive Voices Cruise in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 he joined Stephanie Miller and John Fugelsang for the wildly successful Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour in various cities across the country. This tour topped more than a million dollars in ticket sales while raising money for local progressive causes.[6]

Sparks is not related to Canadian comedian Ron Sparks.

Radio[edit]

Sparks appears as a regular guest and fill-in host on the national Stephanie Miller Radio Show, providing three hours of commentary and humor on Wednesday mornings. The program is known as "Hump Days with Hal", and is broadcast weekly from his official U-stream channel.

He continued this free "behind the scenes" U-stream show for his listeners and fans. In June 2010 he got his own radio program on Chicago's Progressive Talk as host of The Hal Sparks Radio Program (megaworldwide), which broadcasts between 11am and 1pm each Saturday.[7][8]

Television[edit]

Sparks had his screen debut on the television movie Frog, starring Shelley Duvall, Elliott Gould, and Scott Grimes in 1987. Over the following decades he would go on to appear in several types of TV roles, which included host of Talk Soup in 1999, and is currently one of the stars of Disney XD's Lab Rats.

Game shows[edit]

Sparks became the United States' youngest game show emcee in 1988 when he hosted the short-lived, syndicated game show, Treasure Mall.

He also participated on GSN's Extreme Dodgeball as captain of the Chicago Hitmen team.

He provided the voice of the computer named "Mr. Q" on the U.S television adaptation of 20Q, which aired on the Game Show Network (GSN) in 2009.

VH1 appearances[edit]

Sparks in 2007

Sparks was one of five celebrities to appear in the first episode of VH1's Celebrity Paranormal Project. He has also been a regular commentator on several VH1's series, including the following:

TV starring roles[edit]

Sparks was a regular cast member of the breakthrough Showtime television series, Queer As Folk, an American adaptation of the UK series written by Russell T Davies.

In 2007, Sparks became the voice of the lead character in the animated series for children, Tak & the Power of Juju for Nickelodeon, which ran for twelve episodes between 2007 and 2008.

In 2009, Sparks recorded his first Showtime comedy special Charmageddon in front of a standing room only crowd at the OC Pavilion in Santa Ana, California. The special aired in 2010, and was released on DVD.

In 2011, Sparks was cast as Donald Davenport, one of the lead characters of a new Disney pilot Lab Rats. Variety reported on July 12, 2011 that the series was ordered by Disney for a 2012 premiere.[9][10]

In early 2012, the Lab Rats premiere received the highest ratings for original series for the network. It was announced in May 2012, that it had officially picked up for another season.

TV guest appearances[edit]

Sparks had made appearances on various television programs from as early as 1994, when he played a long-haired skateboarder on the fourteenth episode of the first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. In 1995, he appeared in the "Gentle Horse" episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. From 2000 through 2006, he appeared in Martial Law, Frasier, One on One, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Las Vegas.

He appeared as himself in the video "Beat It," the Michael Jackson cover, by Fall Out Boy, and voiced a cameo on Robot Chicken.

Reality TV[edit]

In 2006, Sparks competed for the charity Habitat for Humanity on the Fox celebrity competition Celebrity Duets. He performed with such musical legends as Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Wynonna Judd, Dennis DeYoung, Dee Snider and Sebastian Bach. He made it to the finale along with Lucy Lawless and Alfonso Ribeiro, and came in third in the series.

In 2007, Sparks was cast as the host for the WB reality series Survival of the Richest, where wealthy young adults were paired with those young adults with massive debts to complete challenges together and work as a team.

Also in 2007, Sparks joined Roseanne to judge Nick at Night's search for America's Funniest Mom.[11]

Sparks was a contestant on the 2008 VH1 celeb-reality series Celebracadabra, where the celebrities vie to out-perform each other with magic they have learned from their experienced coaches. Other celebrity contestants competing included Ant, Lisa Ann Walter, Carnie Wilson, Christopher "Kid" Reid, Kimberly Wyatt, and C. Thomas Howell. Howell was the winner, with Sparks taking second place.

Film[edit]

His first breakout role in a mainstream movie was in the 2000 cult favorite Dude, Where's My Car?, as Zoltan, the bubble-wrapped leader of a clan of nerds obsessed with outer space. In a 2009 interview with We Are Movie Geeks, he confirmed he created the iconic hand gesture in a "Z" formation.[12] The “Z” hand gesture became the celebratory sign of choice among the members and fans of baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates, of whom Sparks is a fan, starting in 2012.[13] On July 25, 2012, he threw out the first pitch during a Pirates/Cubs series at PNC Park.

Sparks has appeared in other films, including Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star and Spider-Man 2, where he had a memorable cameo as the elevator passenger who enjoys an awkward but funny moment with Spider-Man. He also appeared in the opening scene of the 2009 Mike Judge film Extract, as one of the guitar salesmen scammed out of a guitar by the con-woman played by Mila Kunis.

In 2004, he starred as Deputy Dale in the independently produced Lightning Bug, which was written and directed by Robert Hall, who was an original band mate in Hal's hard rock band Zero 1.

Music[edit]

In addition to acting, Sparks is also the lead singer and guitarist for a rock band, ZERO 1 (previously called The Hal Sparks Band). At the start, the band consisted of Hal himself, his friend Rob Hall on bass and Hal's cousin Miles Loretta on drums. Their self-titled debut album was released in December 2006 and produced by King's X's frontman DUg Pinnick. The album is available through iTunes and on Sparks' official website.

In 2007, both Sparks and Loretta from Zero 1 participated on DUg's solo project Strum Sum Up.[14]

The band now has a new lineup consisting of Hal Sparks (lead vocals and guitar), Brian Crow (guitar and backup vocals), Bumper Renga (bass and backup vocals) and Lance Tamanaha (drums and backup vocals). They signed with the record label "rocket science" and have a new album on the way called "The sacred nothing". Also expected to debut is the band's first video for the single "American Psycho," which was directed by Adrienne Wanyo and filmed on location at the Houdini Mansion.[15]

Hal's musical experience paid off as a contestant in the first season of Celebrity Duets. He often joins the Los Angeles cover band Steel Panther to sing classic 80s metal tunes, such as the Skid Row hit "Youth Gone Wild".[16]

Hal treats his worldwide Zero 1 fans to exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of band rehearsals, courtesy of his U-stream channel. In addition the band has played such famous venues as The Viper Room, The Knitting Factory, The Key Club and The Whiskey A Go Go.[17]

Stand Up[edit]

In 2011, Sparks began touring the US with John Fugelsang and Stephanie Miller as part of the Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour.

In 2012, Sparks and Fugelsang began the "Politics, Sex and Religion Tour."

Personal life[edit]

Sparks is an outspoken activist who regularly participates in charitable events for organizations like AIDS Walk, Farm Sanctuary, the Lilli Claire Foundation, Imagine a Cure and the Marijuana Policy Project. However, Sparks is a non-drinker and non-drug user who has "never had an alcoholic beverage in my life."

While at Los Angeles International Airport in 2010, Sparks and an airline passenger used CPR on an unconscious, elderly man who had collapsed in the airport terminal.[18]

In May 2011, Sparks announced he'd become a father during a special Ustream show on Father's Day.[19] He debuted his son Camden Harrison Sparks at the 2011 AIDS Walk in Los Angeles.[20]

Sparks has studied martial arts since the age of 8 years old and holds belts in Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and several forms of Kung Fu including Wushu.[21]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Pirates began using the iconic "Zoltan" hand gesture from "Dude, Where's My Car" as a good luck symbol to turn around a 19-season losing streak. After a Twitter campaign to encourage the "real" Zoltan to appear at a game, Sparks flew to Pittsburgh on July 25, 2012, to throw out the honorary first pitch, and was on hand to see the Pirates win 3-2 over his hometown team, the Chicago Cubs. Also there to support the team was Hal's girlfriend, Summer Soltis, whose family are from the area and Pirates fans themselves.[22] Despite picking up a cult following in Pittsburgh[23] and helping the team contend in the playoff race well into September, the Pirates finished with a 79-83 record, extending their major North American professional sports record to 20 consecutive losing seasons.

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1994 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Skateboarder Episode "Witness"
1995 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Gentle Horse Episode "Indian Agent"
1995–1996 Night Stand Father Chip Episodes "Follow-Up Show" and "Confessions"
1998 Cheap Theatrix
1999–2000 Talk Soup Host
2000 Martial Law Ellroy Nelson Episode "No Fare"
2000–2005 Queer As Folk Michael Novotny
2001, 2002 Rendez-View Guest Host Episodes "She Loves Him, Loves Him Not" and "Belgian Boy Toy"
2002 One on One Danny Davis Jr. Episodes "Unemployment Up, Pride Down" and "I Believe I Can Fly: Part 2"
2003 Frasier Receptionist Episode "Door Jam"
2004 Extreme Dodgeball Player for Chicago Hitmen
2005 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Digger James Episode "Dog Eat Dog"
Video Game Vixens Host
2006 Las Vegas Doctor Paul Episode "Cash Springs Eternal"
Survival of the Richest Host
Celebrity Duets Contestant, Third Runner Up
Celebrity Paranormal Project Episode "Waverly Hills Sanatorium"
2007 Tak and the Power of Juju Voice of "Tak" and Really, Really Revolting Juju 26 episodes
America's Funniest Mom 3 Himself/Judge
2008 Rock Band 2: The Stars Guest Star
Celebracadabra (Reality Show) Himself, First Runner Up
2009 20Q Co-Host, Voice of Computer (Mr. Q)
2010 The Tester [Judge in Sony PlayStation Series]
Web Soup Himself Special Guest Appearance with Chris Hardwick
Hal Sparks: Charmageddon Stand-up special
2012–present Lab Rats Donald Davenport Main Cast

Film[edit]

Made for Television
Year Title Role Notes
1987 Frog Jim
1995 Signs and Wonders Rocker 2
2002 Bleacher Bums Richie
2009 2009 Game Show Awards Mr. Q (voice)
2011 Slip Away Seth Short
Major distribution
Year Title Role Notes
1989 Chopper Chicks in Zombietown Lance
1996 Invader Fort Irwin Defense Command (voice)
1999 Lost & Found DJ
2000 Dude, Where's My Car? Zoltan – Cult Leader
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 School Fish #1 (voice)
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Publisher
2004 Lightning Bug Deputy Dale
Spider-Man 2 Elevator Passenger
2006 Denial Executive Producer
2007 The House That Jack Built Dominic
2008 Dead Space: Downfall Ramirez (voice)
2009 Extract Guitar Salesman #1
2013 The A-List Brad Post-Production
Music Videos
Year Title Role Notes
2008 Beat It (Fall Out Boy Cover) Music Video Himself
2013 Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World (Steel Panther) Himself

Video Games[edit]

Video Games
Year Title Role Notes
2007 Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots Tak (voice)
2008 SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom
Tak and the Guardians of Gross

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "The Hal Sparks Show". WCPT AM & FM. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Official Website". 
  4. ^ "NBC DFW: Stand-Up Sit-Down: Hal Sparks". 07/08/2010. 
  5. ^ "Edge New York New York: Hal Sparks Tackles Politics, Civil Rights, Radio, and... Disney?". 2011-04-19. 
  6. ^ "Can a comedy tour be 'sexy and liberal?'". LA Times. October 22, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Hal Sparks Live". 
  8. ^ http://chicagosprogressivetalk.com/includes/news_items/2/news_items_more.php?id=84&section_id=2
  9. ^ "Hal Sparks Tapped for Disney XD Pilot "Lab Rats"". April 2011. 
  10. ^ Weisman, Jon (July 12, 2011). "Disney XD experiments with 'Lab Rats'". Variety. 
  11. ^ "Comedy Off Broadway: Hal Sparks". 
  12. ^ "WAMG Interview with Hal Sparks". 
  13. ^ Starkey, Joe (July 26, 2012). "No Dempster dive for Pirates". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 
  14. ^ "Magna Cart Records: Dug Pinnick Strum Sum Up". 
  15. ^ "American Psycho Sneak Peek". 
  16. ^ "HAL SPARKS sings Youth Gone Wild w/ METAL SKOOL". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl1iz-jU9Os. 
  17. ^ "Reverbnation: Zero 1 (Featuring Hal Sparks)". 
  18. ^ "Township woman helps comedian save man at LAX". Dayton Daily News. 2010-08-19. 
  19. ^ "HalSparksLive Ustream: Humpdays With Hal". Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  20. ^ http://greginhollywood.com/queer-as-folk-alum-hal-sparks-is-a-dad-56764
  21. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chwEl1ynua0
  22. ^ Majors, Dan (2012-07-26). "Actor who played Zoltan on hand for Pirates win". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  23. ^ The Pirates believe in the power of Zoltan - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

External links[edit]