Hartnett, Prince, Keillor: 10 local celebs we loved this decade
It's been a good decade for celebrities in the ol' TC, and let it never be said we spend all our time bashing the local big-names. Here's ten folks we'd rather bump into at the Wedge than see defect to Hollywood or New York.
There are so many ways to break down Joe Mauer's baseball bonafides: from a numbers standpoint, he's an unprecedented combination of hitting prowess and backstop defensive wizardry; no other catcher, especially a Gold Glove winner, has ever had a season leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage like he did in '09. From a visual standpoint, his swing is as poetic and visceral as a Pete Townshend windmill or a Bruce Lee punch. From a fan perspective, he's combined the franchise-defining presence of Kirby Puckett with the hometown connection of Kent Hrbek. And from a local celebrity standpoint? It remains to be seen how his contract extension talks with the Twins are going to go, but it's hard to imagine this humble, family-minded St. Paul native wanting to sever ties with the city that's made him their most beloved sports hero since Herb Brooks.
When RuPaul's Drag Race aired this year on Logo, who knew a gorgeous lady from Minneapolis would walk away with the top prize? To be fair, as a Miss Gay US of A finalist in 2005, Benet had experience in drag-queen competition. But as per the catchphrase of the show, it was because of Benet's "charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent" that she walked away with the top prize. We're glad our Minnesota beauty hasn't gone totally diva - she can still be seen on occasion at the '90s.
Earlier this decade, Paisely went dark and Prince left for Los Angeles to do Prince-ish things like paint a borrowed Lakers player's house purple for the hell of it. Our claim to pop music fame left a sizable hole in our inner fabulousness, but now he's back and partying with us on the weekends at Envy, popping up all over town like he's proud to be a Minnesotan again. And you know what, Purple Wonder? We're pretty damn proud of you, too.
At times, it seems Hartnett single-handedly keeps C.J. in business. Whether he came to town to visit his parents or attend a friend's wedding, his every move and meal was dutifully recorded for posterity by the Strib gossip columnist. Raised in St. Paul by a hockey-loving dad and an artistic mom, Hartnett became a national celebrity with starring roles in Black Hawk Down and 40 Days and 40 Nights. Lately, he has been distinguishing himself as a producer, including the feature film Nobody and a recent video for Kid Cudi. If you live in Minneapolis, you may run into him. The proper move is to put away your iPhone and buy him a drink.
Jason DeRusha, WCCO
WCCO newsman Jason DeRusha seems to spend as much time on Twitter, Facebook and his blog as he does on camera. Along the way, he's grown a virtual fan base so strong that at one point this year it took over his life. "It's National Cheesecake Day," he asked on Facebook over the summer. "How do you get a 'day' anyway? Good Question at 10. (Anyone have power to declare DeRusha Day?)" With that, a perfect storm of social media blew ashore, as DeRusha watched from the sidelines, and by Sept. 16, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak had declared Sept. 21 Jason DeRusha Day. DeRusha told Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine earlier this year that his predecessor in the WCCO "Good Question" slot, Brian Tracy, used the platform to launch a network news career with CBS in 2007. Does that mean DeRusha would leave the bright Twin Cities lights behind for fame and fortune with a network? "What I want to do doesn't exist on local TV right now," he told the magazine. We wish DeRusha a bright and fruitful career, but from a purely selfish standpoint, we hope he sticks around for a while.
The English major from Anoka has been on the radio since '69, and his Prairie Home Companion is one of the state's finest ambassadors for our culture. In this decade, Keillor decided to invest locally, opening his Common Good Books in St. Paul's Cathedral Hill neighborhood. We have no real worries that Keillor will ditch the Cities for greener climes - his roots run deep in Minnesota soil.
The Stray Cats' lead singer adopted Minnesota as his new home state back in '06, and we're happy to have him. Along with playing local shows, he pops at other folks' concerts around town and is always happy to shake the hands of fans who approach. At a Wayne Hancock show at Lee's Liquor Lounge last year, Setzer turned up unexpectedly. He played a couple tunes with the band before melting back into the crowd to enjoy the music, enhancing the concert without stealing any attention from Hancock. It was a great moment in which it became clear that Setzer's picked up Minnesota Nice just fine.
Robyne Robinson, FOX 9
For as long as we can remember, Robyne Robinson has been the coolest female news anchor in the Twin Cities. You can just tell she's bad ass. Someone says something stupid on the 9pm and by the look on her face you easily imagine a cartoon thought bubble popping up with exactly the right comeback (her quote on her Facebook page: "I don't feel the need to kiss your ass.") Be it with a plug or her patronage, Robinson has long supported the Minneapolis' art, music and fashion scenes, proof she hasn't floated off into talking-head-land forever. Sometimes sanity comes in the form of a side project: Her foray into the precious gemstones arena as owner of the Rox exotic jewelry line keeps her creative side buzzing, and local and national celebs adorned.
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