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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. Universal Studios theme park is taking people inside 'The Shining' (w/video)


    It's only May, but Universal Studios is already teasing a big reveal for this year's Halloween Horror Nights: a haunted attraction based on Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece The Shining.

    Universal's theme parks in California and Orlando plan to channel the "unspeakable terror" of the 1980 film based on Stephen King's novel with "terrifying new mazes" that will "bring every gruesome moment and paranormal haunting that fans have seen in the film to life," a news release said....

    A scene from the film version of "The Shining."
  2. In Case You Missed It: Elephant hunter crushed by elephant; Tom Hanks and The Rock's huge announcement; watch Cher turn back time at Billboard awards


    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.


    A big game hunter in South Africa died Friday after an elephant fell on him, according to the Telegraph:...

    Tom Hanks and Dwayne Johnson on "Saturday Night Live."
  3. Will guys wear the RompHim romper for men? How about the business suit onesie, the Suitsy?


    The Internet has spoken, and it apparently wants fashionable, one-piece things for men to wear. Or it doesn't. Who can tell?

    The RompHim, a "romper for men," will be a reality thanks to crowdfunding, but, like so many things online, its hard to distinguish if the public, or even the garments' creators, actually want these things or are just having a laugh (reality probably falls somewhere in between). ...

    The RompHim, which apparently can be paired with a fur coat if you can pull it off.
  4. Zac Efron playing serial killer Ted Bundy in new film


    Zac Efron is set to take on what could be the darkest role of his career, especially for a guy known for comic fare like the Neighbors movies and the upcoming Baywatch.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, Efron is set to star as notorious serial killer Ted Bundy in a movie titled Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile....

    Zach Efron, left, will portray notorious killer Ted Bundy in an upcoming movie.
  5. 'Stranger Things,' 'Walking Dead' and 'Underworld' stars added to Tampa Bay Comic Con


    Here's a quick update on the celebrity guests added to the lineup for Tampa Bay Comic Con since we last posted about it.

    Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington on Stranger Things (and will be playing Ybor City with his band next month)....

    From left, Kate Beckinsale, Khary Payton and Joe Keery will appear at Tampa Bay Comic Con.
  6. Wonder Woman burger from Tampa captivates the Internet with its Amazonian physique


    South Tampa comfort food experts Datz caught the attention of food bloggers this week with the creation of a ridiculously high-stacked, Wonder Woman-themed cheeseburger.

    The Amazon Warrior Burger features two patties and three sourdough buns in red, blue and gold, topped with white cheddar and American cheese stars that make the entire creation look reminiscent of the old-school Wonder Woman costume....

    The Amazon Warrior Burger is coming to Datz June 2 to 4.
  7. Someone started a GoFundMe campaign to engrave 'Family Guy' quotes and Internet memes on the Tampa Riverwalk


    When the people who frequent r/Tampa,'s discussion board for all things Tampa related, put their collective digital might together, things can happen (case in point: this Lightning logo).

    Does that mean the Tampa Riverwalk could one day be engraved with "Nice undies!" or the Hunter S. Thompson quote, "We can't stop here, this is bat country."?...

    This image was posted with a GoFundMe campaign.
  8. Artists mourn as St. Petersburg's Art Supply Store prepares to shutter in June


    Pat Jennings, whose art supplies business helped breathe life into the city's now iconic street murals, says he's closing shop for good after nearly 15 years in St. Petersburg.

    The Art Supply Store at 2429 Central Ave. permanently discounted all its merchandise by 50 to 70 percent on Tuesday, with plans to shutter in June.

    Surrounded by blank canvases and tidy rows of pencils, tubes and spray cans containing every conceivable color, plus a vibrant collection of paintings gifted to him by some of the area's best-known artists, Jennings, 65, said the decision was made quickly....

    The Art Supply Store on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. The store is set to close in June. [Christopher Spata | Times]
  9. 'MasterChef' Season 8 features three contestants from Tampa Bay


    Tampa Bay will be well represented when chef Gordon Ramsay returns to MasterChef to tell home cooks that their fish is so awful, he wouldn't even serve it to his cat.

    The eighth season of the reality competition series pitting talented amateur chefs against each other for a chance to win a cookbook deal and $250,000 premieres May 31, and features three competitors from the Tampa Bay area, Fox announced this week. ...

    Paola Annoni Patel is a contestant on Season 8 of "MasterChef."
  10. USF student with rare disease wanted to walk at graduation — then he did it (w/video)


    It was two years ago that Sam Bridgman came to Tampa from Oregon.

    He left the comfort of having his immediate family nearby to study 3,000 miles away at the University of South Florida's Muma School of Business. He started an internship with the Tampa Bay Lightning the same week.

    Though Freireich's ataxia, a rare degenerative disorder that began taking over his body at 15, cut short his days as a baseball standout and double black diamond skier, he hoped to remain active in sports with a degree in sports and entertainment management....

    Sam Bridgman in 2015, shortly after beginning his studies at the University of South Florida. [Times files]
  11. MTV Siesta Key reality series coming this summer (w/video)


    There's an MTV situation happening in Sarasota County.

    The cable network debuted the first commercial for a Siesta Key-based reality series Sunday during the MTV Movie and TV Awards.

    The new series based on the popular beach destination is titled Siesta Key and appears to be more like the reality soap opera The Hills than the reality bro fest Jersey Shore. ...

    People dance inside Gilligan's Bar and Grill on Ocean Boulevard in Siesta Key in 2010.
  12. Forget the 100-pack, this brewery is selling beer in a 1,000-pack


    People thought it was an April Fools joke when Finnish brewery Karjala released 100-packs of beer last month (it wasn't). A rival brewery apparently thought it was a challenge.

    Finland's Nokian Panimo brewery went viral this week when someone posted a photo (above) to Reddit with the caption "they're selling a thousand pack of beer in Finland."...

    A photo of the 1,000-pack of beer.
  13. Tampa apparently ranks high in 'burrito-loving.' The real news: 10,000 free burritos


    On-demand delivery app Postmates released Wednesday what it's tongue-in-cheekishly calling the national "burrito index," and according to their burrito data, Tampa just barely slipped in to the top-30-most-burrito-loving cities in the country this year.

    They put their ranking of America's Top 30 Burrito-Loving U.S. Cities together by looking at data on the total number of burrito deliveries, frequency of those deliveries and "overall preference for burritos over other foods," a news release said....

    Postmates plans to give away 10,000 burritos in the Tampa area.
  14. Call of Duty world championship for $1.5 million coming to Orlando


    Activision's Call of Duty World League Championship, one of the year's biggest events in competitive video games, is coming to the east coast for the first time, the Amway Center in Orlando announced Tuesday.

    The gaming championship with $1.5 million in prizes is set for August 9 to 13 at the 20,000-capacity arena. 

    The top 32 qualifying teams from around the world will compete in "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" for the Playstation 4 in front of an audience during the event....

    The Call of Duty championship drew a crowd to the Forum in Los Angeles in 2016.
  15. Eaters will crown wieners at event-packed RiverFest in Tampa


    It's all about wieners and winners Saturday and Sunday 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 Saturday....

    "Tampa Bay's Best Hot Dog" will be crowned during the Hot Dog Festival at Riverfest in downtown Tampa. [Riverfest]