elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Hal Sparks (born September 25, 1969)

Hal Harry Magee Sparks III (born September 25, 1969) 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.

Stars on Disney XD's show "Lab Rats".

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.

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.

He also studied with The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago as a teenager.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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. 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. 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.

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 claims he is a non-drinker and non-drug user who has "never had an alcoholic beverage in my life."

In 2010, Sparks used his CPR skills to help resuscitate an unconscious, elderly man at the Los Angeles International Airport. He was aided by Katrina Onyett, another passenger who happened to be nearby when the man collapsed.

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

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.

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. Despite picking up a cult following in Pittsburgh 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.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Sparks

Further Readings:

Queer as Folk: The Book by Paul Ruditis
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Pocket; 1 edition (November 4, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743476360
ISBN-13: 978-0743476362
Amazon: Queer as Folk: The Book

Everything you want to know about the record-breaking SHOWTIME series hailed as "fiercely realistic" by The New York Times. USA Today raves, "There's never been anything else like it on TV."

Irreverent, hilarious, and brave, Queer as Folk chronicles the lives and loves of a group of Pittsburgh's most fabulous gay men and women. Packed with hundreds of full-color photographs, this Queer book features episode guides that go behind the scenes and in-depth interviews with the actors, producers, and crew who bring the show to life. With synopses, trivia, quotable quotes, and never-before-seen photos, it's the ultimate companion to one of Showtime Network's highest rated shows!

Look inside for special features like "The Anatomy of a Sex Scene," a riveting glimpse into the sensitive work involved in taking a love scene from page to screen. Visit the sets of Babylon, Deb & Vic's house, Brian's loft, and more. And don't miss out on Deb's words of wisdom, a collection of wise and memorable gems ("You smother a pork chop, not a son") from one of Queer as Folk's most beloved characters. It's all here.

As spirited and edgy as the show it honors, Queer as Folk: The Book is the only official companion book there is!

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Tags: gay classics, persistent voices

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